I turned to look at the door and noticed Sean staring at me like I’d done something wrong. Maddie’s head was on the table and her shoulders were shaking from her crying.
“Maddie,” I murmured.
She looked up at me with tears coating her thick lashes. Her green eyes were even brighter from the tears and her lips were trembling.
“Please would you stand up and take a seat over on the coach,” I asked politely.
She nodded and walked slowly over to the couch, wincing as she walked.
“Sean, how can I help you?”
He looked at me suspiciously. “I was wondering if we could reschedule our meeting to Monday. I have to leave early today.”
“Sure, you can speak to Cecilia and she’ll let you know what time I’m available.”
He nodded and left, not even sparing a glace at Maddie. Her eyes were lowered in embarrassment and tears were running down her cheeks.
“I’m sorry about the coffee,” she mumbled. In everything that had just occurred I’d completely forgotten about the coffee stain.
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll be back in a minute.”
I walked into the bathroom that was attached to my office and changed into the spare pair of trousers I had on hand. I walked back into my office and noticed Maddie prodding her ankle and wincing. I looked at her shoes. They were ankle boots with the thinnest stiletto heels I’d ever seen. Those were a death trap. Even though they made her legs look miles long.
“Would you like me to get you some ice for your ankle?”
She looked up at me, startled.
“That’s okay. I’ll get some from the kitchen,” she stood up and wobbled.
I placed my hand on her shoulder and gently eased her back down to the couch. “Do you have some extra shoes with you?”
She looked at me and quickly glanced away shaking her head.
I laughed. “I can tell you’re lying.”
She turned back to look at me with wide eyes. “How do you know?”
“Your face is too expressive. Where are your shoes?”
She sighed. “In my car.”
“I’ll tell Cecilia to get you some ice while I get your shoes. Do you want to tell me what kind of shoes they are?”
She shook her head. “You’ll know when you see them,” she closed her eyes and sighed.
I walked to her car and found her shoes on the floor of the passenger side. I immediately began laughing when I saw them, and I knew why she was reluctant to say she had them.
They were pink fuzzy unicorn slippers, complete with a gold horn.
I grabbed them and walked back to my office, laughing the whole way.
“Here you go,” I handed them to her as she put the packet of ice down.
“Thank you. Am I fired?” she asked so softly.
I looked at her properly for the first time. Her eyes tried to hide her disappointment, but I could clearly see it.
“What would lead you to believe that you might be fired?”
“I clearly don’t have experience and I just made a mess of things on my first day. I am nothing like Cecilia. It might take forever for me to be even half as good as her.”
“If you don’t believe you’re competent to handle this job, why did you apply?”
“There are no teaching jobs around here and I had to move back home. I need some sort of income and I thought I would just try my luck. Clearly this was a mistake.”
“Do you miss teaching?” I asked curiously.
“Everyday,” she smiled a wistful smile.
“If you’re still here next week and manage to do half the job that Cecilia does then I will show you something that you might like,” I smiled at her. “You’re not fired. If you’re doubting yourself or doubting something that you’re doing, you need to speak to me. I’m here to clarify any questions you might have. You are not alone.”
She looked at me in surprise. “Thank you.”
“How is your ankle?”
“It’s been better,” she shrugged.
I chuckled. “Well I hope you can walk because it’s time for a small party,” I helped her up and led her back to her desk.
“Party?” she frowned.
“Shhh,” I whispered and placed my finger on her lips. “You’ll see,” I winked mischievously.