Everyone Hates Mondays
Note: This is a draft. There may be spelling & grammar errors, plot holes, and/or inconsistencies. These will be corrected during revision. Please comment or highight and give feedack if you notice anything! Be as specific as possible - your feedback helps me a lot! :)
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I hate running late.
Lizzy started throwing up this morning, the babysitter was late, Brandon couldn’t find his gym shoes and Damon’s car is in the shop so he needed a ride to school. To top it all off, there was construction on the way to the school, slowing traffic to a crawl and now I’m in a traffic jam thanks to a detour. Apparently, everyone’s building or repairing things today.
God, I hate Mondays.
I only managed half a cup of coffee when my daughter started getting sick. I need caffeine badly. I dig out my cellphone and dial my assistant.
“Hello, Mr. Rivers,” she answered after the first ring.
“Sarah, I’m running late. I’m locked in traffic,” I explained with a heavy sigh, staring at the line of unmoving cars ahead of me.
“I’ll move the meeting back an hour and shift a client. Perhaps a lunch meeting?”
I’d rather not, but I had to get things done. “Yeah. That sounds fine.”
“I’ll make sure to have coffee waiting when you arrive,” she stated. I could hear the smirk in her voice.
“Thank you,” I breathed in relief. “You are the best.”
She laughed sotly. Sarah and I were on friendly terms. She was a damn good worker, knew when to put me in my place and seemed able to predict my every need. Hands down, she was the best assistant I have ever had.
“That’s why you keep me around, Mr. Rivers,” she teased, before ending the call.
I swear I would be lost without her. At 28, she was already tough as nails and more competent than people twice her age. She never seemed to miss a beat and always came off as a respectable, classy woman who knew what she was talking about. Her opinions were to be respected and taken seriously. Sooner or later, though, she was going to rise among the ranks to take over a department herself. I will rue the day when I have to replace her. I just hoped it wasn’t soon. I had enough on my plate at the moment.
Three years ago my 2nd wife left me without a word, sending me divorce papers in the mail along with signing over her rights to our 3 kids. I don’t even know what happened. So, again I was a single father after my 1st wife and I divorced, dying a few years later which left me with Damon. At least it was amicable. We simply married too young and grew apart. Still, it hurt badly when we learned of the accident. She was my first love, after all and we were still friends.
Sometimes people just grow apart.
I try, I really try to take good care of my kids. I want them to be happy, to feel loved. Unfortunately, keeping a strong female influence is hard and the various babysitters we’ve gone through hasn’t helped provide them with needed stability. I need a nanny. Someone who will always be there. Someone devoted to their care and nurture them in the ways that I can’t. There’s just something about a woman’s touch that helps a child grow better. The comfort. The safety.
Kids need that softer touch. My daughter, especially. Who’s going to teach her how to be a girl and about girl things? I can read the books and tell her what I can, but it’s not the same and I know it.
With everything going on, I don’t have time to date, so there are no prospects in that department. Sad, but true.
I sigh heavily.
Something good has to happen eventually, right?
My kids deserve better. I have to do right by them.
Finding a nanny won’t be easy. I need someone I can get along with, too. Someone I can trust to let into my life to help me with my kids. I don’t want strife in the house. They’ve been through enough.
Damon will be tough. He didn’t take his mother leaving well, then he lost his other mother. I think he blames me. I wish he could understand, but I suppose I can’t blame him. I just hope he doesn’t blame himself. He’s got too much on his shoulders right now as it is; helping me with his siblings when he’s home. I know he loves them but he shouldn’t have to put aside his own things. It’s his senior year. He should be having fun. Dating, going to parties (where I hope he will be responsible), participating in school activities and the like. He’s giving up so much.
I call Sarah again; she answers on the second ring. “Yes, Mr. Rivers?”
“I need to find a long-term nanny,” I explain as I finally near the end of the construction zone. “Someone trustworthy. I’d rather have a woman.”
There was a pause at the other end of the line. “I’ll call some services and see what I can find. Interviews at your office?”
I considered it for a moment. “Yes, that will be best. I’ll let you set the times since you manage my schedule,” I joked.
Sarah chuckled on the other end. “Of course, Sir. I’ll see you soon. Your coffee is waiting for you.”
Ugh, Mondays suck!
Business has been bad and the restaurant had to cut back on staff. Since I’m one of the newest, of course, I’m one of the first to go. Now I have to find a new job, but I dropped out of college and have only been able to get menial jobs. Few people have space for unskilled workers these days. Bars, restaurants, and crappy mini marts are about your only options around here. I huffed, blowing a strand of my hair out of my face. I would have to fix it back again in a few moments.
I’ve only got enough money for one more week of rent. I have to pay it tomorrow, $180 a week. I’ve been there 6 months, but the landlady is not forgiving. You pay or you’re out, no discussion. It’s a long-term motel; fully furnished with a small kitchen, a TV, and you can pay $15 a month for a phone number. I know, nobody uses landlines anymore. It’s all I’ve got. You learn to live with what can afford. It could be worse.
I could already be on the streets.
That would definitely be worse. Way worse.
I was let go Saturday, so here I am wearing black slacks, a black knit blouse with a striped faux collar and low-heeled boots so I don’t walk on my pant’s legs (my legs are too short and pants are always too long), searching for a job. I was trying to be hopeful, but it was 9 o’clock and I’ve already been rejected a dozen times. I hadn’t even eaten yet, but right now I had no appetite. I admit I’m discouraged. Maybe I’m in the wrong part of town. I probably should not be trying at business offices. Why hire a drop-out when everyone has a degree these days?
I squared my shoulders as I approached the next building’s doors.
Be confident. Smile. Act like you belong here. Appear calm.
I put on my mask before stepping in. It’s time to pretend. After all, it’s what I do best. I know how to make myself fit it. As long as they don’t dig too deep. Needless to say, I don’t really have friends. I have acquaintances. Nobody knows the real me. It’s better that way.
Besides, I’m not all that.
I know I’m reasonably attractive and I’ve had plenty of lovers, but I never stick around long and tend to drop them fairly quickly. They start getting attached and wanting to know things, wanting to get serious. A commitment. I can’t do that.
I just... can’t.
If you don’t leave them, they’ll leave you.
Sooner or later, everyone leaves. Every last one.
I smile as I approach the reception desk and wait for her attention patiently.
Finally, the middle-aged woman turned her attention to me. “How may I help you,” she inquires politely.
“I need to speak to the person responsible for highering, please,” I request with a smile.
The woman nodded once, then picked up the phone on her desk. She dials a few numbers and waits. She speaks to someone, requesting a Ms. Davis. Her conversation gives away little while I surreptitiously scan those walking in and out of the building. Nicely clothed, clean-cut, professional looking people were everywhere. People I don’t fit in with naturally. I sigh inwardly, turning my attention to the woman behind the desk, trying not to reveal my growing anxiety.
She hangs up the phone and looks at me with an apologetic expression. “I’m sorry, but we currently do not have any openings.”
I nod and offer a polite smile. “Alright. Well, thank you for checking for me,” I tell her politely. “Have a great day.”
I turn around to leave the building, moving toward the front doors. As I near them, a man bursts through the doors, clearly in a rush with the speed he was walking. With a slight startled sound, I step back to avoid him and barely keep from falling on my ass. The man paused and reached out to help me steady myself.
“Oh, jeez, I am so sorry,” he says quickly. “I wasn’t watching what I was doing.”
I look up to see startling crystal blue eyes set in a handsome tanned face. The very next thing I noticed was the man had shadows under his eyes. He looked exhausted.
“It’s ok,” I said to reassure him with a soft smile. “No harm, no foul.”
He stared at me a moment before offering a sheepish grin. “Thank you. I really am sorry about that.”
I pat his arm and squeeze gently. I didn’t want him to be concerned about me. Nothing happened. “Hey, it’s ok. Really. You look tired. We all can be a bit off when we aren’t getting enough sleep.”
The man sighed softly. “Is it that obvious?
I shrugged slightly. “To me, but I notice these things. Anyway,” I added after a brief pause, “I should get going. Job hunting, you know. Have a good day!”
“Alright and thanks” he answered now smiling himself, showing off his white teeth. “Good luck!”
I waved as I strolled to the door and out. I sighed and walked to the next building. I had a feeling today was going to be a long day. At least I had a reminder not everyone were assholes. I felt bad for the tired-looking man, wondering idly what had him running so ragged. Too bad I’d likely never work in a place like that where the people were nice enough you could enjoy your job more. After working the bar crowd hours, I had begun to forget what it was like to be around non-drunk people; besides my co-workers, that is.
At least I’d become more able to avoid the various groping hands that often surrounded me. Being free of that environment was actually a relief I hadn’t expected, though I wondered at my chances of getting a job dealing with them. I’d probably end up working in another bar or overnight shift in a restaurant.
That poor lady. I nearly ran her over. At least she was nice about it.
I was in the elevator by the time I realized I’d not even asked her name. Oh, well. There’s nothing I can do about it now. Still, those inky eyes were alluring. Not that I had time for exploring anything. At least I could still appreciate an attractive woman. I was starting to forget there were appealing women around. I had a strict rule about mixing business and pleasure, leaving me few women around I could be bothered to appreciate.
All thoughts of the brunette vanished when the elevator opened into the foyer of my office. Stepping forward, Sarah met me with a cup of coffee and a smile. Right now, she was my favorite person. I took the coffee with thanks and proceded to my office with her trailing along behind.
A meeting with the head of Advertising, a meeting with a new client, then 2 more appointments and it was finally lunch time. With a meeting at 1, I was going to have to keep it short. Sarah buzzed me on the intercom to let me know my lunch appointment had arrived. I blew out a breath before standing and pulling my suit jacket back on.
Out in the foyer, I shook hands with Daniel Mason. He was one of my old college friends. I knew if he scheduled a meeting with me that it had to be important.
“Let’s just go around the corner,” I suggested. “The deli’s got the best Reuben you’ve ever had.”
Daniel chuckled, following me back into the elevator. As we rode down, we exchanged the general small talk - ‘how’s the kids’ - and so on. Nothing heavy, just a quick catch-up. I was finding myself relaxing in the company of someone I trust that isn’t solely focused on business. I needed this. Relaxing time had been in seriously short supply the last few years.
“So, when are you going to start dating again,” Daniel asked as we strolled down the sidewalk. “It’s been 3 years.”
I sighed, stuffing my hands in the pockets of my suit pants. “I have no free time. I’ve got 4 kids, you know; no nanny, no steady babysitter and I can’t let Damon raise his siblings.”
“So hire a nanny.”
“I plan on it. I just haven’t had time to look. I’ve put Sarah on it to help me find someone, though. She’s going to set up some interviews,” I assured him.
“It took you long enough,” he replied. “I was starting to think you were going to remained buried under your responsibilities forever,” he teased with a grin, but I could see the worry behind his expression. “I mean, you could have done this sooner, after the first couple you lost.”
“Fired. I fired them,” I corrected. “They just didn’t fit right. It sounds so easy, but when it comes down to it, you’ve got to find someone you can get along with that also gets along with the kids. Lizzy hasn’t liked any of the women I’ve hired so far. Even Edward hated the last one.”
DDaniel nodded slowly. “I see how that could pose a problem. The kids have to at least get on reasonably well with a caretaker.”
“Which is exactly my problem. Either they are too overwhelmed, the kids don’t like them or I can’t get along with them,” I explained before pulling the door open to let Daniel step in ahead of me.
Daniel nodded as we stepped inside the homey deli with small tables covered with white and red checkered covers, each with 2 or 3 chairs parked at each. It was just past 1 o’clock, so the place was fairly busy. I waved at the owner as we made our way to a free table near the back by the window. Unlike most delis, Frank had a few members of staff that waited on the tables during busy hours to help take the load off the counter. With orders being called in and many grabbing lunch to go, it made the counter a very busy area.
Soon, one of the staff approached to take our order, then returned back with our coffees in less than 2 minutes. The service here was always very good.
“So,” I began after taking a long sip of my coffee, “what’s so urgent you had to make an appointment with me?” I looked into Daniel’s face, noticing a hesitation as two lines formed between his brows.
“You have the best consulting firm in the state and I need your help. I think I have an issue in management, but I can’t figure out what the problem is. I keep getting conflicting reports from various sources, but someone is... taking shortcuts and risks that could get me in serious trouble if someone gets hurt.”
“What department is being affected,” I asked automatically.
“That’s the problem,” Daniel said, looking square at me, “it’s in multiple departments. I can’t find the common denominator.”
I sat back, hands cupped around the white ceramic mug, thinking a minute. “What type of shortcuts?”
Daniel glanced around before leaning in. He kept his voice low to prevent anyone from hearing. “Filters not being installed properly in some of the labs, equipment not being replaced, tests being skipped, records being altered, reports going missing... some of this is very sensitive material. Zecurity hasn’t found anything and the audits don’t make sense. I think someone’s trying to sabotage me or steal our ideas or... trying to cause a serious accident.” He ran a hand over his face. “Dammit, some of these issues could cost people their lives and cost me billions in lost contracts. I could lose everything and the 362 people that work for me would suddenly be jobless.”
That would be a huge disaster. He had some of the top of their fields working for him. A crew like his was a goldmine and he’d worked hard to recruit the best. 20 years of blood, sweat, and tears would go down the drain. I would be devastated at such a loss, myself, so I can imagine the panic he must be feeling.
I nodded once, my decision made. “I’ll set you up with my top people to investigate. I’ll have Sarah call you when to come to meet them.”
Daniel blew out a rush of air, relief evident on his face. “Thank you, Chuck. I know you’ve been backlogged but..”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m happy to help. I know how hard you’ve worked to build your company up. It’s the least I can do. I mean, what are friends for?”
Daniel chuckled a bit, relaxing his back and shoulders a bit. “Who’d have thought we’d still be friends 20 years later?”
I laughed at that. “Hell, we weren’t even sure sometimes we’d make it another week. Jer sometimes thought we were going to kill each other.”
Daniel laughed at the memories. “Good ol’ Jerry Holloway. A stand-up guy if there ever was one. How’s he doing these days,” he asked, taking a swallow of coffee.
“Chasing a 10-year-old on the weekends while supporting his ex-wife.”
Daniel nodded with a smirk. “So, same as always.”
I grinned. “Pretty much. At least she’s a good mom and doesn’t keep his kid away from him.”
Daniel nodded, eyeing me knowingly. I raised my hands defensively. “I don’t want to hear it. I’ll do what I can when I have time.”
Daniel chuckled, though his grin faded as something over my shoulder caught his attention. I turned to look at what caught his attention.
Isn’t that... yes, that is the woman from this morning.
She looked nervous and I saw her pull out her wallet to count bills before searching the menu board. A slight frown marred her features before she looked in her wallet again, counting silently as she bit into her lower lip.
“Damn. She’s quite a looker,” I heard Daniel say behind me.
“Yes, she is,” I agreed quietly.
I knew that look. I remembered it from the days of my youth when we didn’t have a lot of money. Let’s face it - we were poor. My heart reached out to her, so I stood and approached her. I heard Daniel mutter something behind me, but I wasn’t paying attention.
Today officially blows ass. Not a single place hiring. Still, I left my resume at a few places who stated they may have some new openings soon. I wasn’t hopeful.
I also needed a Coke and something to eat. I was starving. After a moment’s thought, I realized it had been about 24 hours since I last ate. I’d seen a deli a few blocks away, so I decided to head in that direction. I walked in and noticed full tables and a crowd lined up at the counter. Sighing inwardly, I stepped in line and pulled out my wallet. I didn’t have much money, so I needed to know if I could afford it here or if I’d have to go to a fast food joint and order their cheapest burgers and Coke that cost me less than $5.
I had $37 dollars without cutting into my rent. Divide that by 8 days and that’s $4.50 a day, give or take. I lifted my eyes to scan the menu. What was the cheapest? Hmmm... A BLT was $5. I didn’t see anything cheaper. I looked at the appetizers, hoping to see something promising there, but the best was a small order of fries for $3.75. I looked back in my wallet, recounting and doing the math in my head.
I sighed softly. I can’t afford it here. I’ll have to hunt down a fast food place or wait until tonight. Just as I was tucking my wallet back into my purse to leave, a big hand took hold of my hand gently. I looked up, startled, into startling crystal blue eyes. It took me a moment to recognize him.
Oh, right. The tired guy in a hurry this morning.
“Need anything,” he asked with what seemed like genuine interest.
“No, it’s ok... I just changed my mind is all,” I responded politely, withdrawing from his grasp.
“How about I buy you lunch? You know... to make up for earlier,” he offered, gently taking my elbow to draw me toward his table where Daniel waited. “They have the best Reuben’s here. Would you like to try it? I promise it’s delicious.”
I wasn’t quite sure how to respond. I didn’t want charity, but I also didn’t want to appear rude or make a scene. When he asked me about wanting a Reuben, my stomach growled loudly. I chewed on my lower lip in embarrassment, looking down.
The man chuckled in amusement before pulling a seat on the back side of the table and guided me to sit there. Just as I sat, a waitress walked up and handed each man a paper plate, loaded with a thick sandwich and heavy side of chips.
Before she could leave, the man managed to get me to accept his offer and I ended up getting the Reuben and a Coke. I was incredibly thankful for the man’s offer, but I was afraid to come off as being flat broke and approaching desperation.
“This is very kind of you; thank you very much.”
The man smiled. “You’re most welcome.” He then motioned to the other suited man next to me. “That’s Daniel and I’m Charles.”
“Lilah. It’s a pleasure to meet you both... officially,” I said with a grin toward Charles.