“Do you have any experience in commercial modeling?” Gabi looked up from the resume on her desk at the pretty blonde girl in front of her. “I only see runway on here and that’s not exactly what we’re looking for right now.”
Gabi was exhausted. She had been working at Cole Incorporated for six months and was almost finished hiring her team. On this particular morning she was looking to hire a model for a print ad for the holiday campaign. This was the sixth model that had come in and she was doubtful that this girl was any improvement on the last.
The young lady smiled brightly at her. “Actually, I did a commercial for--”
She was interrupted by a knock at the door of Gabi’s office. Molly poked her head in the door. “Ms. Perez? Mr. Cole would like to see you in his office as soon as possible.”
“Oh! I didn’t know he was back.”
Ryan seemed to be very busy getting the branch off of the ground. They still weren’t the best of friends but he had stopped hovering over her work and allowed her to do her job. Everyday since her little outburst, he made sure to stop by her office and tell her a corny joke and she had begun to look forward to it. So when he disappeared for a week without saying anything to her, as much as she tried to deny it, she had been disappointed.
Molly smiled. “He got in late last night.”
“Okay I’ll be there in a moment.” Gabi redirected her attention to the girl in front of her. “I’m sorry Ms. Stevens, I don’t think you’re a good fit for what I’m looking for at this time.”
The girl looked like she was about to start crying making Gabi extremely uncomfortable; She didn’t handle emotional people very well.
“Miss Perez please! I’m desperate! I will take any job you have available! Do you need a personal assistant? I have experience doing that! Please I have a three year old that I have to take care of--”
“Ms. Stevens, please calm down!” Gabi pleaded, her expression softening. This girl in front of her reminded her so much of her younger sister. “Wait here for a few minutes,” she instructed, handing the girl a box of kleenex.
She slipped out of her office, walked across to Ryan’s office and knocked on the door.
Gabi walked in and closed the door behind her. She hovered awkwardly by the door waiting for Ryan to acknowledge her presence.
He gestured to the chair in front of his desk without looking up from the document he was reading. “Have a seat Gabriella. Give me just a second.”
She sat down and fidgeted in the chair mentally scolding herself for being so nervous. She pulled herself together and sat tall in her seat, waiting for him to finish.
He looked up after a minute or so and flashed her that lopsided grin of his. “Hey Gabriella. How are you?”
“I’m well and yourself?”
“Pretty good; Glad to be back in the lone star state.”
“Where were you travelling?” she asked, as casually as she possibly could.
“Missed me huh?” he winked at her.
She tried to hide her blush and snorted. “As if. I won’t lie and say that I didn’t miss your corny jokes though.”
He laughed and sat back in his chair, his expression turning more serious. “I called you in to check on your progress with hiring your department and the new ad campaign.”
“It’s going pretty well. I’ve filled all of the full time positions; I’m actually conducting interviews for the ad campaign now. My team solidified the concept last week and we’re looking for models and actors now.”
Ryan was surprised. “Wow. I’m impressed. You’ve done a lot in a short period of time. Great work.” He smiled at her and checked his watch. “As a reward, let me treat you to lunch.” He stood up and walked to the door.
Gabi got up and followed him to the door. “That’s not necessary Ryan; I’m just doing my job.”
“Nonsense! Go grab your bag and let’s go.” When she didn’t move he frowned. “What’s wrong?”
“Well, there’s a girl in my office that I want to offer a position but not as a model.”
“As what then?”
“Personal assistant?” she asked, hesitantly.
“You want a personal assistant?” he smirked at her. “I don’t even have one of those.”
“Well then hire her as your personal assistant.”
He frowned again. “What makes her qualified?”
“I just have a good feeling about her,” she replied.
He stared at her. “You have a good feeling?”
She nodded and he sighed.
“Let’s discuss it over lunch, I’m starving. Tell her to come back at two.”
This time Gabi picked the restaurant. She took him to her favorite restaurant La Cocina de Maria.
When they walked in the hostess greeted Gabi with a hug and began talking to her in rapid Spanish, much too fast for Ryan to understand. He observed Gabi as she laughed at something the hostess said as she guided them to a booth near the window. Gabi’s curly hair was pulled up save a few tendrils that sprung loose at the base of her neck and in front of her ears. She was wearing a navy blue dress that shouldn’t have been sexy but it hugged her hips in an alluring way. He assumed she had paired that god awful tan cardigan with it to downplay her curves; It didn’t work. The hostess handed them menus and went back up front to greet more customers.
“You’re quite popular in this area,” Ryan said, peering at her over his menu.
“What do you mean by that?” Gabi asked innocently.
“First day I met you, when we were at that bar, and the bartender let you serve yourself. Now, the hostess here greets you like you’re family.”
Gabi took a sip from the glass of water that had been placed in front of her. “That’s because she is family.”
His eyebrow quirked upwards. “Really?”
She nodded. “Yeah, this is my Tia Maria’s restaurant. Most of the employees are my cousins.”
“Oh, that’s really cool.” He turned his attention to the menu but frowned after studying it. “I don’t recognize any of these dishes. Is this not a Mexican restaurant?”
Gabi suppressed a laugh. “You assume we’re Mexican because we speak Spanish and live in Texas?”
“No! Of course not! I just uh, um,” he stammered and Gabi laughed aloud.
“Relax Ryan. I’m just teasing you. My family is Dominican; This is Dominican food.”
“Oh! I don’t think I’ve had Dominican food before.”
“You want me to order for you?”
“Sure, I trust you.”
Gabi ignored the flutter of her heart in her chest and waved her cousin over. “Prima! Queremos dos platos de pollo guisado y tostones. Oh, and I want un vaso de morir soñando.”
The waitress nodded and hurried off toward the kitchen. “What did you order us?” Ryan asked.
“Pollo guisado is the best chicken you’ll ever have and tostones are fried plantains. I also got a drink, morir soñando. It’s kind of like milk and orange juice.”
“Milk and orange juice?” he asked incredulously as it was placed in front of her.
Gabi laughed. “Don’t knock it till you try it.”
“So why do you want that girl to be hired so badly,” Ryan said, changing the subject.
“She really needs a job and I think you could use an assistant.”
“What makes you think I need an assistant? We have Molly.”
“Molly is for the entire office. We have a lot more people on staff now, and that number will just keep growing. She’s not going to be able to do everything for you for long.”
Ryan pondered her statement for a moment. “That’s true. And despite my teasing earlier, you will probably need one too. I propose we share her.”
“Share her? What is she a t-shirt?” Gabi scoffed.
“I meant that she’ll work as an assistant to both of us,” he replied, laughing.
“How will that work? Our jobs are so different.”
Gabi shrugged as their food was placed on the table. “If you say so, boss.”
Ryan raved about the delicious meal all the way back to the office. “That chicken was so delicious! What was it called again?”
Gabi laughed. “Pollo guisado.”
“Pollo guisado,” he repeated. “And you know how to make it?”
She nodded. “Since I was a little girl.”
“Hmm. You’ll have to teach me how to make it sometime.”
He pulled into the parking lot and she blushed. “Maybe.”
“So I’ll be assistant to both of you?” Heidi Stevens said, looking across the table at Ryan and Gabi.
Gabi nodded and handed her a planner as Ryan addressed her. “You are to attend all meetings and will function to meet whatever work needs we have. Whenever Miss Perez and my work schedules do not overlap, you will work exclusively for her.”
Gabi glanced over at him, surprised. They had not discussed this part.
Heidi was nodding and writing quickly as Ryan dictated his daily schedule and coffee order. He nudged Gabi, indicating that she should speak.
“Oh yes. I arrive every morning at 8:30 and I take a caramel macchiato with soy milk extra hot with an extra shot no whip.”
“Any questions Miss Stevens?” Ryan asked, closing his tablet.
“No sir. I think I’ve got it. Thank you so much for the opportunity.”