This morning I came to the job earlier than usual. The hotel I was working in was full of life all the time, people walking in all directions like ants, checking in and checking out. My coworkers were all very tense for a few days already because Chris Hemsworth, the well-known actor, was staying in our hotel. All my female colleagues had their eyes glued to the staircases or elevators in order to see him walking through the lobby to or from his room, and they were melting from happiness when he sometimes stopped at the reception to ask for something, although usually, he used the phone in his room to contact us. He was currently shooting a new movie and he had come here without his wife, which unofficially confirmed the rumors going around the press lately – that they are having marriage troubles.
Actually, it seemed that I was the only one who couldn’t care less about him. I was worried about other things, much more personal and important. I had financial problems. I was happy I had found this chambermaid’s job. Many girls can’t get themselves any kind of job when they’re eighteen but I did. The only problem was that I wasn’t sure I could wait till I get my salary. I needed new clothes, new shoes and a little bit of food as well. And this morning, as I was preparing to go to the job, I was visited by the owner of the room I was renting. She threatened to kick me out if I don’t pay my rent, I was always late to do that. I was in a really big trouble.
” Stephanie! ” I heard my coworkers voice behind me and sprang to my feet. She was pushing a trolley full of hotel’s towels and tablecloths.
” Are you really still sitting here? You had to bring breakfast to Hemsworth fifteen minutes ago. Hurry up, the last thing we need is a complaint from a celebrity! ”
After a moment I was walking down the corridor, carrying a tray of coffee, croissants, and fruit to his room. I hadn’t yet met the famous actor personally and I couldn’t help thinking that he could reward me with a nice tip. However, I knew that rich guests have often proven themselves to be horrible scrape-pennies, so I didn’t get my hopes up too high.
He had chosen a distant room in the left wing of the hotel. It was understandable – probably he wanted to be further away from crazy fans and passionate admirers. As I reached his door, I was already raising my hand to knock when I heard his loud voice from inside the room. It seemed like he was talking to somebody, probably on the phone.
” I told you to keep our children out of this! What kind of mother are you? What do you mean, you’re not giving me a divorce? You know what, I’ll divorce you even if it’s the last thing I do in my life. ”
I was standing outside his door confused. Could it be that he was talking to his spouse? I didn’t believe it. I had seen lots of pictures of him hugging and kissing his wife Elsa. He seemed happy. I didn’t want to let him know I had overheard his conversation but I was already late with bringing him breakfast, so I knocked.
” Room service! ”
” Come in, please! ” his voice wasn’t angry anymore. I pushed the handle, the door wasn’t locked.
I couldn’t see him anywhere when I walked into his room, a slight rustling from the bathroom was the only sound here. The famous actor seemed to be a neat person, his room was very tidy and it couldn’t have been cleaned by maids because it was still very early. A dark blue jacket was hanging on the back of the chair. On the bed, there was a closed laptop and a dark suitcase on the floor.
” I brought your breakfast, sir, ” I said as cheerfully as I could.
” Thanks. Leave it somewhere. ”
The bathroom acoustics made his voice sound even lower than it was. I hesitated. At this point, he should give me some money and I couldn’t believe he didn’t know that. I lingered in the room a bit longer than I normally should, hoping that it would hint him something.
” I’m sorry I was late. ”
” That’s ok. ”
That’s ok? Asshole. I guess that meant no tip for me. All the rich people were the same. He wouldn’t even come out of that freaking bathroom and say " thank you ” to my face. Annoyed, I put the tray with the food on the nightstand next to the bed. And then, as I was going to leave, I saw something that I should have never seen. His wallet. It was lying partly open on the pillow with several dollar bills sticking out of it.
I froze as a horrible thought came into my head. I had been poor all my life and never once had I taken something that wasn’t mine. Some part of my mind screamed at me to forget what I was intended to do. Another part remembered my empty fridge and all the debts to the owner of my living place. He had so much money he probably wouldn’t even notice a few bucks missing.
Overwhelmed by temptation, I quickly opened the wallet, took a few hundred bills out of it and put it back on the pillow the moment he came out of the bathroom. He was dressed in a casual white shirt and jeans, with a leather belt around his narrow hips.
” What are you doing? ” he asked, taking the jacket from the back of the chair and putting it on as he came towards me.
” Uhm...I was just wiping the dust, sir, ” I answered, turning to the nightstand and trying to sound as calm as possible, as I pressed my hand to my side, slipping the money inside the pocket of my uniform.
When he came up to me, I felt slight anxiety. He was a tall man, I was barely reaching his chest with my 5 ft 2 and I had to look up to meet his eyes. Chris was much more handsome in life than in pictures and I could understand now why so many women admired him. He looked down on me with doubt in his eyes.
” What does dust have to do with my wallet? ”
” I wasn’t touching your wallet, sir. ”
He leaned over and took the wallet from the pillow, half opened it and glanced inside. I began to realize that he may be counting his money after all. He lifted his eyes on me.
” Show me your pockets. ”
I didn’t move.
” Why, sir? I was just doing my job. ”
He dropped the wallet on the bed and stepped closer to me.
” Show me your pockets. I won’t repeat for the third time. ”
Slowly I reached inside the pocket of my uniform and took out the crumpled bills. Still, I had something to say to him. I was surprised at myself, I had never been so insolent in my life.
” That’s my money, sir. ”
” Oh yeah? I never thought maids are earning so much these days. ”
” I got tipped well, ” I replied, not looking into his face. The moment I was trying to get past him and leave, he suddenly grabbed my upper arm. I couldn’t believe how strong he was. His hand was like pincers, fingers digging into my skin mercilessly. He sure was strong enough to break my arm.
” Sir, you’re hurting me! ”
His eyes, two blue pieces of ice, stared into mine. The Australian accent added even more hostility to his deep voice. He about whispered and that scared me a lot more than if he had yelled.
” Do you think I’m stupid? Put back everything you took immediately. ”
He let go of my arm, it burned and felt a little numb from his iron grip. Hurriedly I put the money on the nightstand and I didn’t feel any remorse that I had lost it. I just wanted to get out of here.
” You are really doing your job, ” he said with his face dark. ” And I’m going to see the manager of this hotel right away. ”
A wave of shock flashed through me. I knew what that meant. The manager of this hotel was a serious, harsh and strict woman who guided our job by one single principle – the guest is always right. She had fired many employees for much less important reasons. If a celebrity will come to her and announce that he has been robbed by a maid, everything will be over. The manager won’t listen to what I have to say, I won’t be able to even open my mouth. My job will end on this very day.
” Please, don’t do that, Mr. Hemsworth! If they find out, they’ll fire me. ”
” Well, I hope so. Surely they wouldn’t want to ruin their reputation with thieves working in their hotel. ”
” Sir, I didn’t mean to steal. I don’t know what came over me! ” I was literary shaking in my shoes, desperately trying to think of anything that could stop him.
” I need this job. It’s my only source of income. Please, sir, I’ll never do that again, just don’t tell anything to the manager. I gave everything back to you, didn’t I? ”
” Because I caught you, ” he smirked. ” Would you give it back if I didn’t? No, you wouldn’t. And now you want me to just let you go so you could try again later? ”
” No, sir, I won’t ever do it again. I have never stolen before, I don’t know why I did it now. I’ll do anything I can do for you, just I’m begging you, don’t make me lose my job. ”
He looked at me for a while, seemingly considering something.
” You don’t work twenty-four-seven, do you? ”
” No, sir, my shift ends at 9 pm. ”
He looked into his wristwatch.
” You’re lucky I don’t have the time to deal with you now. But at 9 pm I want to see you here. Let’s both think about what can you do for me. And if you don’t come, I’ll go to your employers. Got it? ”
I listened to him silently, heart pounding, too scared to look into his eyes. My arm still felt painful.
” Yes, sir. ”
” Now leave and let me have my breakfast. ”
I almost ran out of his room and down the corridor. If this was a usual day, I wouldn’t worry about the end of my working shift. 9 pm was a holy time for me, as it meant I can go home and relax. But now I had no idea what it meant. I had no idea what he wanted from me. If he wanted to see the manager, he could have done it now. If he wanted to forgive me, he could have done it now too. So why such rules? Sometimes, when the hotel was full, I had to work past 9 pm too. I was afraid that I won’t manage to be in his room at 9 pm and he’ll go to my manager and I’ll have to wave goodbye to this job the same day. My heart was racing and my knees were trembling.
I bumped into my colleague when turning around the corner.
” Stephanie, are you alright? You look worried. ”
” I’m fine. Just a lot of work, that’s all, ” I said, trying to smile.
I couldn’t stop cursing myself for my curiosity. I knew I wasn’t supposed to do what I did and I did it anyway. And it had given me much bigger problems than I had.