I sit at the dinner table with my family for our required weekly meal. It shocked me when I saw Ainsley come up to me to be my server for the night. She already had a full-time job, why did she need another one?
“Where is our server? I need a refill,” my brother Laird demands, looking around the restaurant for Ainsley.
“She went outside to help George Fullerton,” I remark, pointing to them standing in the cold air. I can see she is freezing.
“Why? That man hates everyone,” my mother says, finally looking up from her phone.
“He doesn’t hate her, he is giving her a large present wrapped in childish paper,” Laird says with a hint of disdain in his voice.
“Interesting,” my father muses, watching the scene from the window. I see her give George a hug, one he returns with a smile. I’ve never seen the man smile when we meet for business.
“You don’t suppose they have something going between the two of them, do you?” Laird asks, his eyes glued on Ainsley hugging George.
“No. His wife is with him and she just hugged Ainsley too,” I say pointing to Ivy who is hugging Ainsley.
“How do you know her?” my mother asks, seeing my interest in her.
“She is the temp secretary working for me. Usually, she works at the front desk of the office building. Charlotte quit last minute, so Vivianne moved her to be with me.”
“Oh, I liked Charlotte,” my mom remarks with a frown.
“Did you overwork her?” Laird asks with a smirk. I glare at my younger brother.
“She wanted to spend more time with her family,” I say, making Laird laugh at me.
“Be nice to the ladies. The better you treat them, the more they will do for you. Ainsley is hot, be nice to her so I can see her at your work,” he tells me. For some reason, anger builds in my chest. I don’t like him looking at Ainsley as if she were a piece of meat.
“Hands off the secretary,” I tell him right before Ainsley comes back with our food.
“Here are your steaks and salad,” she announces, setting each of our meals in front of us. I see she tucks the tray under her arm and watches Laird. My brother is the pickiest eater I’ve ever met. He cuts the steak and inspects it until he takes a small bite.
“No, overcooked take it back.” Laid shoves the plate at her. She silently takes it and goes back into the kitchen. I cut mine and see it is perfect along with my father’s meal. My mother has everything she wants done to her salad correctly as well.
“Do you do that just to be an ass?” I ask, irritated at my brother.
“Sometimes, I want to watch her walk away. Her ass is just the right size for me to smack.” Laid mimes smacking her ass. I cuff him on the back of his head and watch Ainsley move around the room. She has a smile on her face, but it doesn’t reach her eyes. I can tell she is tired, I mean I made her work through her lunch. I wonder if she’s eaten anything today.
“Here you are, sir,” Ainsley says ten minutes later with the plate and a new steak for my brother. I see her hands are shaking before she tucks them behind her back. Laird tests his steak, this time being happy with the steak.
“Better.” Laird waves a hand to dismiss her. I watch her give a small smile before walking away to her other tables.
By closing time I sent my family on their way and sat with a cup of coffee waiting to pay the bill. I told her I’d flag her down when I was ready. At ten I wave her down and she comes over still with that fake smile on her face. I can see she is exhausted.
“Do you need anything else, Mr. MacNee?” she asks, picking up my dirty cup.
“No, here is your check,” I hand her the check fold with a few hundred dollars in it.
“Keep the change,” I tell her, getting up and slinging my wool coat on and going out to my car. I sit there and wait for her to come out. Another thirty minutes go by before I see her coming out of the restaurant, bundled against the cold with the massive gift in her hands. I wait to see if she goes to her car, but to my surprise, she walks down the sidewalk away from the restaurant. Before I know what I am doing, I turn my car on and go after her. Pulling onto the side of the road, I lower the passenger window.
“Where is your car?” I ask, ambling to keep up with her pace.
“I don’t own one.” I frown, so she doesn’t have a cellphone plan, no car, and works two jobs. Now I just need to figure out why.
“Can I give you a ride home? It is cold and late,” I offer, leaning forward to see her face.
“My apartment isn’t far, but thank you Mr. MacNee,” she tells me and turns away from my car hurrying down the street. I follow, I don’t want her to be jumped.
“Please Ainsley, it is dangerous out here this late.” I see her hesitate before finally nodding. I stop the car and unlock it. She puts the gift in the back of my Aston Martin. She settles in the seat, but I can tell she is nervous.
“Can you put in your address?” I ask, pointing to my navigation system. She nods and types in an apartment complex about ten minutes from the restaurant. As I drive, I realize it is about a forty-five-minute walk. Stopping outside her apartment building, I can tell it needs some work to be brought up to code.
“Thank you for the drive home, sir,” she whispers as she climbs out of the car. Leaning back in, she takes the gift George gave her.
“Good night Ainsley, I’ll see you in the morning.” She gives me a nod and walks along the bottom set of apartments until she opens the last one on the end. I wait until she is inside before driving back to my penthouse.
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