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Chapter 11

WYATT

I would like nothing more than to wrap my hands around Johnny’s neck and choke him. He’d probably like that too much. I’m perusing the internet for potential chefs. My gut tells me to hire only men. I don’t want to put any women in his line of fire. The man is a walking sexual harassment case.

Ernie shuffles in, “Any luck?” I click through to the next page on my screen. “Yes and no. It seems that most of these chefs are either too expensive or not available right away. I need more options.” Ernie shrugs, “Too expensive? I surely doubt that.” I look up from my desk, “He gave me a salary cap of fifty thousand.” Ernie waves his hand in the air, “That’s preposterous for an estate this size and lavish dinner parties. Please, he can afford five times that.”

Maybe Ernie is right, “I’m gonna go talk to him.” Ernie encourages me, “Don’t talk honey. State your demands.” I sigh, “I’ll do my best.”

Johnny’s on the phone in his office. I wait until he hangs up to knock. “Come in.” He’s sitting at his desk with no shirt on. “Jesus. Shit. I’ll come back when you’re-” He interrupts me, “Wyatt you’re gonna have to get used to all this.” He arches back on his chair raising his arms behind his head. “You mean the bad spray tan?” I tease him. He does a double take of his stomach, “It’s a good glow.”

I nod, “Right. Not orange at all.” He grunts, “What do you want? Aren’t you supposed to be finding us something to eat?” I crack my knuckles, “About that. I Can get you a four star private chef if I had more wiggle room.” He frowns, “How much more are we talking here?” I hesitate a bit, “About seventy thousand.” He smiles, “You’re worried about asking for an extra twenty thousand? Nonsense.”

He’s missing the point. I shake my head, “No. I mean seventy thousand more. The annual salaries begin over one hundred thousand. Unless you want a two or possibly a three star chef.” He slams his fist down on the desk, “Only the best! Money is not an obstacle here.” Why would he give me a smaller salary to work with? “Are you enjoying this?” He looks at me, “Very much so.” He’s a child.

I briskly walk out of his office. He frustrates me so much. “Wyatt!” He yells to me. With my back to him I say, “Yeah?” I don’t even want to look at him. He’s purposefully making my job harder than it needs to be. “I like the clicking sound your shoes make.” That’s not weird or anything. I half turn and say, “Umm, thank you. I think?” He pokes his head sideways out of his office door, “Just don’t scuff up the floors okay?” He infuriates me further.

My father used to say the same thing. I was big into tap dancing as a child. I begin to slowly shuffle my shoes. “What are you doing?” He steps out of the office. “Step shuffle jump, step shuffle jump, step shuffle jump.” I say as I tap out a buffalo step. “Wyatt stop!” I perform a quick high stepper dance for him. His face shows a slight amount of amusement when I finish.

Johnny smirks at me, “Do you always do the exact opposite of what you’re told?” I turn around and shuffle my way down the hall. Looking back isn’t an option. I’ll just have a company come buff the floors out later this week. This may be his castle but I won’t let him have the satisfaction of telling me what I can and can’t do with my feet. He’s my boss, not my father.

I trek back down to my new office. My phone vibrates in my pocket. Harper is texting me. I snuggle up on my new couch by the window.

Are you okay over there?

Never better. You?

Living the proverbial dream. Is he treating you right?

I guess he’s not terrible. I have a couch in my office.

I have a smelly man slurping his coffee in mine. You win.

Come visit?

I will. Talk soon.

My emails are starting to pile up. So many chefs are responding to the job listing. I need to weed out the good from the bad. Anyone who hasn’t had any experience with a private residence is an instant no. Here’s an interesting one. This man seems over qualified. Why would he want this job in the middle of nowhere. I print his resume. Henry Thomas could have his own restaurant.

I dial his number. “Hank here.” He’s got an Australian accent, “Hi this is Wyatt Hendricks calling about the chef position at the St. Jacks estate in Connecticut. I was wondering if you’d like to come in for an interview.” He fumbles, “Yes. Yeah. Of course I’d love to. When do you want me there?” Looking at his resume, “Are you free this week at all?” He jumps, “I can head there now and make you lunch if you like.” Score! “That would be great.”

Hank has an old soul and a kind smile. I show him to the kitchen. “What will you be making today?” He places his paper bags full of groceries on the counter. I wait for him to answer me but he just smiles. “You got any food allergies I should be made aware of?” I shake my head, “Nope. You’re good to go.” He nods, “Alright then.” Hank throws the vegetables in the sink. I head back to my office.

The sight of Johnny sitting at my desk shocks me. “Can I help you?” I ask him. At least he’s wearing a shirt now. “I thought you’d be working.” He nods to my computer. “I am. As a matter of fact there’s a chef making lunch in the kitchen this very minute.” He’s surprised, “That was fast.” Yeah, “That’s how I roll. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to find you a butler.” He gets up from my chair, “I was thinking about that. Maybe I don’t need one now that you’re here.”

I wince, “Johnny I don’t want to be your butler.” He pulls a chair near mine, “What if I double your salary?” Rage boils within me but I try to downplay it, “There is no amount of money that would make me desire to be at your beck and call.” He shrugs, “Suit yourself. I just thought it would be fun.” Of course he does, “You’re a sick man.” He laughs, “Would you do it for a million?”

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