A Career Girl Ch 01, a short story by angie65. Date added: 2011-05-13. Times viewed: 10190.
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- Intro: A Job Interview
A Career Girl
(A Job Interview)
Mandy pulled into her driveway with a sinking feeling.
All the way home her car had felt heavy and sluggish on one side. She climbed out of her vehicle with a resigned little sigh and walked slowly around it.
Sure enough the front tyre was flat.
She’d been so thorough with her plans today, an hour visiting at her sister Melinda’s and then home to; shower, change, and leave for her interview at Preston’s Pharmaceuticals with time to spare.
By the time she’d changed the tyre, she was hot and grubby. Her nails were grimy and chipped and her hair was wispy; and now she was running late.
She scrubbed up as best as she could and applied a coat of fast drying nail polish, of a darker shade than she usually would wear.
She slipped into her good suit and her best shoes, and with one last despairing glance in the mirror, Mandy grabbed her bag and left her little house.
When she entered the reception area, her heart sank. There were three men and four other women sitting there; all of them very professional looking, and ALL of them - she just knew – were there to apply for the same position as herself.
“Can I help you madam?” the young receptionist asked in a friendly bubbly voice.
Mandy walked over to her and smiled brightly. “Mandy Jones; I’m here for the job interview.” She murmured in a low voice.
The young receptionist beamed at her in delight.
“If you could just sit over there and fill in this form while you’re waiting?” she said holding up a sheet of paper, with the ‘Preston’s Pharmaceuticals’ logo at the top of it. The receptionist clipped the sheet to a board with a pen threaded through the top, and then held it out to her.
“Thank you.” Mandy smiled absently at the girl as she quickly scanned the document.
The other applicants looked her up and down as she joined their silent ranks.
‘Sizing up the competition,’ Mandy thought to herself with a little sniff.
She didn’t know whether to feel amused or offended when they all seemed to dismiss her as inconsequential.
She shrugged off the slight feeling of peevishness and studied the form in front of her; it was a bit of an obscure form, the questions on it seeming a little; well more personal than relevant to the job.
Mandy hid a little smile, she would so love to meet who had come up this questionnaire; it was so right up her alley.
Five minutes later the form was filled in and she walked back over to the girl at reception.
“Golly that was quick!” she whispered in surprise.
Mandy often had these impulsive moments, but she’d tried so hard to suppress them as an adult.
Maybe it was the dismissal of the other interviewees, it had definitely rankled, but she thought that she had managed to shrug it off.
“Well reading and writing were the things I was best at, at school!” she declared in a high breathless voice.
The girl looked at her surprise, but bit back a grin as she caught the mischievous twinkle in Mandy's eye.
Behind her, Mandy caught the little sniggers; and she winked at the receptionist before she turned back to the silent room.
She re-joined the group with a vacant sort of smile that caused another little whispered murmuring.
The door across from them opened and a tall good looking young man, probably in his early thirties, came striding out.
He marched over to the girl in reception and had a low voiced conversation with her. Then she handed over the pile of forms and he walked back scanning the top sheet.
“Martin Collins.” He said out loud as he made his way back to his office.
One of the young men stood up and followed him through, closing the door behind him.
Mandy sat back in her chair and took some quietly drawn in, deep calming breaths. Her form was at the bottom of that pile, so she might as well make herself comfortable, since she was likely to be here for a while.
The afternoon slipped away, and the applicants with it.
Mandy found herself alone in the reception waiting room, as the last one before her was called into the office.
She glanced across at the young woman behind the desk and smiled at her.
The girl had been busy all afternoon, fielding phone calls and filing, occasionally talking to the generally unresponsive people waiting for their turn.
The receptionist caught her smile and returned it. “Not long now.” She grinned.
“I feel like I’m about to have a tooth pulled.” Mandy murmured dryly.
The girl chuckled softly. “Oh he’s not that bad.”
She sat making plans for what she would cook for her dinner, ‘something simple’, she decided. She still had the rest of that quiche she’d baked yesterday. A nice bit of fresh salad and the rest of that half bottle of wine to help her relax.
Having decided that, to her satisfaction; she glanced around her again, she should be feeling nervous, she thought idly to herself. This was her first job interview in several years.
She’d not gone out to work since she’d gotten married, five years ago.
At first;Mandy had thought it sweet when her new husband Rob declared he wanted to take care of his wife; and therefore she should stop working and stay home.
She had realised when she agreed to it, that she would soon be bored out of her skull, but had thought that in time she could change his mind.
For three years she stayed home, cooking and cleaning, and keeping a nice home for them.
It took about a year for it to become too much for her to bear.
So she went out, and applied for a few jobs, and when one them was offered to her, she accepted with real enthusiasm.
She prepared a gorgeous dinner for the two of them, and opened a nice bottle of their favourite wine.
Rob came home to kiss his wife lovingly on the mouth.
“Something sure does smell good?” he sniffed appreciatively.
She returned his kiss with enthusiasm, and then she took his coat and hung it up.
“We’re celebrating.” She announced happily.
Rob sucked in a breath.
“You’re pregnant?” he asked excitedly.
Mandy frowned and her little bubble of happiness burst.
“No?” she couldn’t help it sounding like a question; they hadn’t even been trying for a baby.
His smile faded into confusion. “Then what?” he asked.
Mandy gave a little sigh; she suddenly just knew that this was not going to work out.
“I’ve got a job, I start work tomorrow.” She told him quietly.
Rob’s confusion turned to annoyance so fast that it took Mandy’s breath away.
“Cancel it.” He bit out quietly. “Tell them you changed your mind.”
Looking back on things, Mandy remembered how their marriage had gone downhill from there; that in hindsight; that had been the day when its fate had been sealed…
Mandy blinked back into the here and now; to find that the tall young man had come out of his office again, and was waiting patiently for her.
As she walked across to him she noticed the plain gold band on his wedding finger. ‘Good he was safely married; so no potential complications there then.’
He waved his hand towards the little office, to indicate she should go in first, so she smiled in acknowledgment. She looked again at his face, and a memory sparked, to flit away again; just eluding her conscious thoughts.
Those brown eyes, and that easy going smile, that slightly too long hair, that threatened to fall into his eyes; but there was something missing, something she couldn’t quite pinpoint.
“Good afternoon miss? Jones, I’m so sorry to have kept you waiting, please take a seat.”
He rambled on in an easy casual tone as she sat down.
“Now I don’t want you to stress; this is going to be a very informal talk, and I’ll start by telling you that my name is Peter Preston.”
“Good afternoon Mr Preston, Please don’t worry about the waiting.” Mandy reassured in a quiet confident voice.
He glanced through her CV and Mandy sat patiently waiting.
“I see that you’ve a BA in business studies.” He murmured. “A degree in IT, a VERY impressive list of minor qualifications….”
He looked up at her. “But you’ve not worked for more than six years now; may I ask why?”
Mandy shrugged awkwardly. “I was married, and my husband didn’t like the idea of his wife going out to work.”
“And how did you feel about that?”
Another little shrug and a hint of colour came to her cheeks.
“I liked going out to work, but I wanted to make my husband happy, so I gave it a go.”
“And now you’re divorced?”
“Yes.” She nodded.
“And you would rather not talk about it?” he guessed shrewdly.
Mandy gave a little sigh. “There isn’t really anything else that’s relevant.” She told him quietly.
He looked at her speculatively for a few seconds; and Mandy would have loved to have known what he was thinking at that moment.
He sat back in the chair and began to tell her a little bit about the job, and what would be required of her.
“You’d be working as Personal assistant to the managing director of the company.”
Mandy frowned; talking about himself in the third person like that was confusing her.
“PA to you?” she cut in quietly.
“What? No I don’t even work for this company; it’s my brother you’d be working for.”
Her confusion deepened and he sighed apologetically.
“It’s my brother Luke Preston who runs the show here; and it’s him who should have been conducting these interviews, but….he was called away suddenly, and asked if I could stand in for him. That’s why I was running late; I had to read through everyone’s application, prior to talking to them.”
“And those last minute forms we were asked to fill in, were to give you a snapshot of each of us?” She guessed.
He chuckled softly and again there was a faint prickle at the back of her memory, but she shrugged it off impatiently.
“You’re the only one who picked up on the relevance of that questionnaire. It was my wife who came up with them.” He observed lightly.
“Oh.” She said since he seemed to be waiting for some kind of response from her.
They sat talking for another five or ten minutes, and then he stood up.
“Well, thank you for coming Mrs Jones. Someone will be in touch within the next few days to inform you of the decision.”
Mandy shook his hand firmly and smiled politely, as he escorted her out.
“Goodbye.” She said to the receptionist as she walked by her desk.
“Bye!” that young lady called out cheerfully.
After Mandy had gone, the girl in reception, locked the main door and put the kettle on to boil.
Five minutes later she walked into the office carrying two mugs of coffee.
“Thanks!” Peter smiled gratefully as he took one of the mugs.
“So what did you think?” Maria the receptionist asked.
“I’m not sure, there were one or two that I think I could recommend to Luke, but...” he hesitated and then glanced at his little sister. “Well you’d be working with them too, at least for a little while; so what did you think?”
“That last one.” She said promptly.
“Yes, she seemed nice – friendly, less up herself if you know what I mean?”
Peter laughed. “Yes, I think I know what you mean. And I am liable to agree with you, I think her and Luke could work well together.”
“So you’re going to recommend her?” Maria asked eagerly.
“Well her and another one with the right qualifications.”
Maria gave a little chuckle. “You should get Claudia in to talk to them all; she’d be able to pick one out; no trouble.”
Peter laughed. “It’s funny you should say that, but when I was talking with that Mandy, I thought about introducing her to Claudia.”
“Oh?” Maria asked curiously.
“Oh it was just something she said; or rather something she didn’t say.”
Maria laughed outright. “You wanted to set Claudia on her? Have her ferret out all her secrets?”
Mandy drove home feeling pretty pleased with herself; she had handled that job interview with a quiet confidence, and she felt that all in all it had gone reasonably well.
Mr Preston had seemed impressed with her qualifications, and he’d said that since she had been out of the work place for some time now, then a character reference rather than an employer’s reference would be quite suitable.
She gave a little sigh as she pulled into her driveway, oh well now she would just have to wait and see.
The telephone was ringing when she entered her little house and she slammed the door and ran over to answer it.
“Mandy?” the youthful voice of her younger sister could be heard clearly down the line.
“Oh hi Melinda.” Mandy dropped down onto her sofa with a little huff and puff.
“You sound like you’re out of breath?” Melinda asked suspiciously.
“I’d just got through the door when you rang, and I didn’t want to miss the call in case it was about the job.”
“So how did the interview go?” Melinda asked excitedly.
Mandy gave a little sigh.
“I think it went well.” She said cautiously. “But he said they would be in touch, to let me know if I had been successful; and there were at least six other applicants, who went in before me.”
“Yes, but I’ll bet that they’re not a patch on you.” Melinda declared loyally.
Mandy laughed flippantly, although she was grateful for her sister’s support and confidence in her. She still remembered the cold dismissal of those other applicants as they had studied her.
They sat chatting for a while, finding lots to talk about; as though they hadn’t seen each other for weeks, instead of hours.
“Oh by the way did you take a look at those pictures?” Melinda asked suddenly.
“No, my car developed a flat tyre on my way back from yours, so I was busy with that and then I had to rush off to make it in time for my interview.”
“Oh bad luck!” Melinda exclaimed down the line.
Having mentioned the photographs though, reminded Mandy of the large brown envelope that she’d dumped on the back seat of her car.
“Any way, I’ll let you go.” Melinda suddenly said.
Mandy grinned knowingly, as she heard the deep male voice in the background.
“Can I take it that your gorgeous new husband has just got home?” she asked dryly.
Melinda chuckled softly. “You can.”
The sister’s rang off after making promises of talking again later.
“And don’t forget that we’re still waiting for you to commit to a dinner date with Ben and me.” Melinda stated firmly before she hung up.
Mandy winced. She just knew that a dinner date; meant their attempts at fixing her up with some poor sod.
The trouble with ‘happy and still in love newlyweds’, was that they thought everyone else should be too.
They were like a disease, just waiting for the next victim to infect, and right now their sights were set on her.
She gave a resigned little shrug, and went out to grab the envelope from her car.
She dropped it off on the sofa and then went to see about her dinner.
Half an hour later, feeling nicely fed, and with her glass of wine to mellow her mood, Mandy curled up on the sofa to peruse the photographs of Ben and Melinda’s wedding day.
The first few pictures had Mandy’s memory drifting back to that day, six months ago.
The wedding had been a moving affair, and the sit down meal afterwards fun in a formal kind of way.
The bride and groom had now left though and the remainder of the wedding guests moved down to the disco area of the hotel where they could continue to buy drinks, or indulge in some dancing if they so wished.
Mandy and Lucy – the two bridesmaids had formed a bond despite the difference in their ages.
Lucy was Ben’s younger sister; who was just turned twenty, and a very young twenty, whereas Mandy at twenty six; was recently divorced, and with a world of experience that somehow seemed to show in her attitude and expression.
For one evening Mandy decided, she was going to throw off the mantle of adulthood and enjoy being young free and single.
The only problem with their plan to enjoy the dancing was Penny.
Penny was a little Jack Russell dog who was absolutely adorable, but had a tendency to get into mischief every time you turned your back on her.
Mandy felt the colour flood her cheeks as she remembered that incident earlier.
“Could you just hang on to Penny for me while I nip to the ladies?” Lucy asked her holding out the sparkling lead.
“Sure thing.” Mandy grinned lightly.
Lucy turned and scuttled off leaving Mandy and the little dog standing alone outside the hotel.
She watched as the photographer took yet more pictures of the bride and groom and Mandy’s expression softened as her gaze fell on her younger sister - the bride.
They looked so happy together.
The best man was standing with his back to her as he chatted with another wedding guest, an attractive brunette with legs to die for and cold grey eyes.
Mandy tried to remember his name, but…..no it just eluded her.
The brunette reached out to touch his arm in a gesture of familiarity, and the sound of Penny growling was the only warning that Mandy got.
She had been clutching the lead lightly and as Penny bolted suddenly, the sparkling leash slipped from her fingers.
Mandy watched in horror as the little dog bounded along the pavement to hurl herself at the best man.
Mandy, recovered from her shock, and rushed after her as the brunette stepped back with a little hiss.
The little fur ball of a dog launched herself at the best man and tangled her sparkling leash around his legs, sending him staggering, and waving his arms around madly, as he tried desperately to keep his balance.
To make matters worse, Mandy in her haste to recapture the said little mutt, tripped just before she reached the trio, and also launched herself at; totally stunned best man; dog with sparkling leash, and by now totally hysterical, tall, leggy brunette.
“What the...?” Was all he managed before Mandy made contact, or rather her elbow made contact with several of his ribs.
The rest of her collided with him less than a heartbeat later, which robbed him of the last of his breath.
“That horrible little dog!” The brunette spat out hatefully as she backed away.
The dog turned to snap at her heels, and the leash that had wrapped around the best man’s legs, pulled tighter, and overbalanced him further; sending him tumbling to the ground, and dragging Mandy down with him.
The brunette turned on her heel and fled the yapping dog; who miraculously calmed, the minute she had disappeared around the corner.
Penny whimpered softly as she sat down next to the pile of humiliated bodies, and gave a little huff of satisfaction.
“Are you okay?” Mandy asked as she tried to disentangle herself from him.
The best man was lying on the cold hard pavement with a slightly stunned expression on his face, and his light brown hair, which was just a little bit too long in her opinion; was shielding his eyes.
As Mandy tried to push herself up, his arm snaked around her waist to hold her firmly to him for a moment longer, and the movement blew back his hair to reveal those haunted, and tragic brown eyes.
Mandy’s green eyes met his in surprise, and for a moment the world around them seemed to pause.
Brown eyes met and held green eyes; and a lifetime of hurts and happiness seemed to pass between them. ‘I know you!’ their look said.
It was a connection with another human being that Mandy had never felt before.
“Oh god! Are you two okay?”
Lucy came rushing up to them, as the bride, groom, photographer, friends, family and just about anyone else in the general vicinity surrounded them and began to untangle and help them to their feet.
Melinda and Ben led a shaken Mandy into the hotel, and the crowd swallowed up the best man, as they made sure he was not injured.
Mandy sat down and nursed the little glass of brandy that Ben had given to her, her expression dazed.
Lucy came hurrying in clutching her little terror to her protectively.
“Are you okay Mandy? I’m so sorry, I don’t know what got into her!” she said anxiously.
Mandy smiled a little shakily at her. “I’m fine Lucy, honestly. She just took me by surprise is all.” she paused as she sipped at the brandy. “How….How’s the best man?” she asked hesitantly.
Lucy gave a little sigh of relief as she dumped herself down next to Mandy.
“Oh he’s alright, he’s laughing it all off at the moment.” She gave a little giggle, “I say; wasn’t he a bit of dish?”
Mandy stopped flicking through the photographs, as she came to one of the main wedding party.
The groom and the best man were also in this picture, standing behind the bride and the bridesmaids.
Their faces were too small to make out too much detail, but Mandy couldn’t help but sigh dreamily over the best man.
There really had been something about him that had called out to her.
She remembered back to that wedding day, to the evening when the bride and groom had left for their honeymoon….
“If we can just find someone to watch over Penny,” Lucy declared eagerly, “then we can have a dance.”
The hotel had a disco going in its lower levels, the lights were flashing and the music was thumping and Mandy was tapping her stiletto heel in time to the tune.
She looked around the darkened room trying to spot someone she knew.
“Can I be of service ladies?” the rich humorous voice sent a shiver down Mandy’s spine.
The girls look around, and then up.
The ‘dish’ smiled down at them both and his top lip curled a little giving Mandy the urge to plant a kiss right over it. To soothe the hurt that seemed to emanate from him.
“Oooh could you be a love and hang on to Penny for us; so when can have a dance?” Lucy implored prettily.
He took the little dog and laughed. “No worries!” he declared happily.
Lucy grabbed Mandy’s hand and all but dragged her across the room, to the crowded dance floor.
Mandy smiled down at that photograph. It had been a fun evening, but she was a little sorry that she never saw the best man again.
By the time the two of them stopped for a rest and went in search of the ‘dish’ and the ‘dog’. They found Penny being watched over by Lucy’s mum, who said that the best man, - having handed over the responsibility of the dog, - had left.
Mandy remembered that gut wrenching jolt of disappointment she had felt on learning that she wouldn’t get the opportunity to talk to him.
With a defiant little sniff she tossed the photo’s to one side and picked up her little manicure set and began to file at her chipped nails, restoring them to their state of perfection, as they’d been before she’d had to change that damned tyre on her car.
Luke arrived back at the factory later that evening; he entered his little office and sat down at his desk.
The pile of forms sitting there were all neatly stacked and on the top was a little note from his brother.
‘Claudia pulled together these forms for you.
I’ve left the two I think might be best suited at the top.
Talk to you later
Luke smiled as he wondered what he could buy for his brother and sister in law as a way of saying thank you.
He read through ALL the forms quickly leaving the top two until last.
Claudia had done a very good job with the forms, with just a couple of innocent questions; you got a real feel for the person. He didn’t even bother with the pile of CV’s, but relied on Claudia’s forms. Having known his sister in law for quite some time now, he really trusted her insights into people.
Most of them were dismissed easily as being too self-involved, or taking themselves a little too seriously.
A couple of others he hesitated over, but they soon followed the others, which left the two that Peter had picked out.
The first one a Miss Carry Edwards seemed suitable and he’d almost made up his mind.
The second one had a little yellow post it stuck to it. ‘I like this one too.’
He smiled as he recognised his sister’s scrawl.
He read through the form quickly, again she seemed suitable.
He looked to the name at the top; Mrs Mandy Jones.
He consigned Carry Edwards to the rejected pile and left the other on his sister’s desk.
‘Since you’ve all decided you like this one, then who am I to argue?
Please can you give her a call in the morning and ask if she can start first thing Monday, - a month’s trial either way.
PS I’ll see you later tomorrow, I’ll probably be in mid-afternoon.’
He locked up and walked out to the deserted car park.
Mrs Jones should be perfect, he thought with satisfaction; probably a middle-aged lady with a doting husband and several growing children, her form did say she’d been out of work for several years; probably stayed home to raise the babies.
He switched on the engine and drove home, humming softly to himself. The other applicant had sounded young, and she was single, which could lead to problems, since they would be working so closely together.
And so he had opted for the safely married, and everyone seemed to like her; - Mrs Jones.
He frowned as he drove down the darkened road, he hoped she wouldn’t mind working late once in a while, and maybe even travelling with him on occasion, he hoped her husband wouldn’t have a problem with it....
Mandy dressed carefully for her first day in her new job.
She still felt that same little buzz of excitement, as when she had received that telephone call from Maria the receptionist.
That young lady had called to congratulate her, on her successful interview; and to offer her the position.
Mandy had sat down on her sofa, and taken three quiet, calming, breaths; before snatching at a pen a paper, and quickly jotting down notes from the spiel the girl was reeling off.
“So we’ll see you first thing on Monday then?” Maria asked suddenly.
Mandy threw down the pad and pen.
“I’ll look forward to it.” she said quietly and sincerely.
Only after she had calmly replaced the telephone, did she let out a loud squeal of excitement followed by dancing a little jig around the room in triumph.
Five minutes later she snatched up her phone again, and dropped down onto the sofa once more to quickly dial her sister’s number.
“Hello?” Melinda answered cheerfully.
“I got it!” Mandy squealed. “I got the job!”
“Oh honey, that’s wonderful news!” Melinda said warmly. “When do you start?”
Mandy frowned thoughtfully as a memory struck her. “Monday morning, but I need to find someone good to give me a character reference.”
“Well what about Ben? As a partner in his dental practice, he’s got some good credentials; he’d be the perfect person to give you a reference.”
“Oh Melinda; do you think he would?”
Melinda covered the mouthpiece, and Mandy heard a quick muffled conversation.
“He says he’d be delighted to do you a reference.” Melinda stated smugly.
“Tell your husband that he’s wonderful!” Mandy said gratefully.
Melinda gave a soft little laugh. “I tell him that all the time.”
She was quiet for a moment and Mandy realised that she was thinking, or rather plotting and planning.
“So you can come and have that dinner with us on Monday night, Ben will have sorted out your reference for you and you can tell us all about your first day.” Melinda ordered firmly.
Mandy gave a little sigh. “For saying you are my little sister, miss; you can be awfully bossy at times.”
Melinda laughed lightly. “If it’s the only way I can get you to commit to coming over for dinner, then that’s what I’ll do.”
“One thing then please.” Mandy suddenly requested seriously. “Please, don’t try to fix me up on any blind dates.”
Melinda was silent for a moment and Mandy frowned impatiently.
“Is it all still a bit raw for you love?” Melinda’s soft sympathy had the tears welling unexpectedly in Mandy’s eyes.
“A little.” She admitted huskily.
“All right I promise.” She sighed. “No attempts at fixing you up.”
“Thanks little sis.”
Mandy replaced the receiver and sat with the tears trickling down her cheeks.
“Oh you silly little fool.” She sniffed.
She straightened her blouse and tugged at her little skirt and then slipped into her jacket.
“There now!” She said with a sense of satisfaction. “Now I can look the part of a successful career woman.”
She drove into the car park of Preston’s Pharmaceuticals; locked up her car and marched confidently into the reception area.
“Good morning!” Maria called out happily. “He’s just in the office if you want to go in and introduce yourself.”
Mandy smiled at her, as she walked across and knocked lightly on the office door.
She registered the little shiver that shuddered down her spine at the sound of that masculine voice; even as she opened the door and walked in.
She trailed off as she stood looking at the ‘best man’ otherwise known as ‘the dish’.
‘The dish’ otherwise known as Luke Preston sat staring at her in total shock.
This was not the happily married, safely middle aged, lady he’d been expecting; this was ‘the green eyed goddess’ who had so haunted his sleep.
“Claudia Preston,” he grumbled under his breath. “Dearest sister in law; you are in so much trouble!”
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