Chapter One – The One With the New Hire
“You’re the only one who fits the bill, so you’ll just have to suck it up, buttercup.”
Phasma is relentless and Rey’s heart sinks as she returns her boss’s unflinching glare.
“I’ve got three regular clients already, and this one wants an exclusive contract,” Rey tries again. “What happens to my other guys?”
Rey can be stubborn, too, and not easily intimidated. Which is a good thing, she supposes. Since Phasma is six-foot three and scary as hell when she’s in a mood.
And right now? Phasma is definitely in a mood.
“Rey. Those Johns are once-a-week clients at best. This is real money, here. Do you want this job, or not?”
Phasma isn’t pulling punches and Rey is running out of options.
She doesn’t want the job, per se. But she really needs it.
She sighs, not bothering to disguise her lack of enthusiasm in the face of the inevitable. The time for faking it will come soon enough.
“Fine.” Rey straightens her slim shoulders, surely carrying the weight of the world on them as she concedes to Fate. “Lay it on me one more time.”
“Athletically built and pleasing to the eye. Check.”
Rey listens to her friend’s voice filter in through the bedroom and wraps another lock of hair around her curling iron.
“Age? Legal to work. Oh, ha, he means barely legal, and you know it!” Rose chuckles lewdly, but Rey silently agrees with her friend’s assessment. They always want ‘em young. Every damn time.
She casts a critical eye over her reflection. She’s twenty-three. Definitely old enough, but able to pass for much younger in the right lighting.
“Hair, any color. Eyes, any color. Check.”
Rey’s hazel eyes can appear a variety of colors, depending on the light and what she wears. Right now, under the harsh lighting of her cracked bathroom mirror, they are the color of…desperate.
“Skin tone?” Rose snorts as she breaks from reading the replies on the questionnaire Rey let her look at. “Did you actually read the reply?” Rose shouts to Rey in the bathroom.
Rey shakes her head, but carefully, holding the curling iron away from her scalp and keeping a close eye on the sizzling lock of hair – last time she left it too long and scorched a chunk of it nearly to the scalp, resulting in some unfortunate bangs that cost her a client.
She’d answer Rose with a sarcastic affirmative, but her mouth is full of bobby pins.
“Skin tone: Doesn’t matter, as long as she has skin,” Rose laughs. “Oh, wow. This guy is either a terrible Romeo or a real-life Hannibal Lecter. Lucky you.”
Rey presses her lips tight around the bobby pins in her mouth.
Rose continues, “Preferred roles? I need a maid.”
As far as answers go, it’s to the point and doesn't contain too much detail, but is descrptive enough. Rey doesn't mind. She's played a maid so many times, she can do it in her sleep. It’s an old-fashioned trope, and a tiny, rebellious part of her inwardly quails at taking on such a subservient role…but she can’t afford to be picky. If she does well today, she can maybe pay the light bill before the utility company comes for her again.
She starts pulling pins from her mouth and jabbing them into her shoulder-length, mahogany hair, twisting it into three neat buns before donning a pristine white maid’s cap. Curling her hair adds volume and it always looks better when she shakes it out of the updo for her clients.
An extra little touch that sometimes makes a difference and could land her a regular.
She hopes this client is old and maybe a little fat. She can wear him out quick. Then maybe get some sleep on the job.
That's about the only literal perk whatsoever to working for one of the most popular escort services around: Catching a catnap in the middle of her workday.
Just then, she hears a small crash from the living room and knows it's the stack of DVDs crashing to the ground. Rey groans. Sounds like her three-year-old-son-slash-miniature-hurricane plowed one of his monster trucks through them.
Rey knows it’s the DVDs because she just picked them up off the floor before Rose arrived to babysit. Naturally the minute Rey cleans something up, Jackson will follow on wings of apocalyptic destruction...
Rey releases the curling iron and sighs long-sufferingly. It’s not like picking up the movies made much of a dent in the general chaos of her apartment, anyway. But she wanted Rose to think she at least makes an effort to keep the place in order.
She listens to the goings-on in the other room.
“Mah-mah-monsie cock!” Jackson shrieks delightedly.
Rose replies with careful enunciation, “Yeah, Jack. Mon-ster truck.”
Rey rolls her eyes and shouts from the bathroom, “Rosie, I don’t know if today is going to be longer than usual. What was the schedule on the questionnaire again?”
Rose appears in the doorway and peruses the sheet in front of her before she replies. “It says: Pending a probationary period, Monday through Thursday from nine to five and Saturdays, half-days on an as-needed basis. As-needed? Who is this guy?”
Rey doesn’t answer. All she knows is what Phasma told her. He’s filthy rich and reclusive and no red flags appeared on the background check. No other escort services have blacklisted him, either, which is an even more accurate indicator of problematic clients than the “official” screening clients must undergo.
She surveys her uniform in the mirror once more, making sure the micro-skirt’s flounces aren’t tucked into her thong and that the seam running up the back of each thigh-high stocking is straight. She adjusts the ridiculously low-cut cleavage of her uniform, pushing up her smallish breasts a bit more.
Thank goodness for push-up bras.
Rey hopes her new client doesn’t secretly want freakishly huge boobs. Not everyone is entirely honest on the questionnaire, and that can cause mismanaged expectations that Rey then has to deal with. Which usually sucks.
Cup size? Normal sized cups. She remembers from reading the questionnaire.
Rey bites her lip. She’s a B-cup on a good day. That’s normal, right?
“Jackie! Come give Mommy a hug!” she calls into the other room. Jack’s little footsteps thunder through her bedroom and Rey sends a silent apology to her downstairs neighbors for the millionth time.
She kneels to catch her son for a hug, careful not to smudge her makeup against his vigorous, toddler-sticky goodbye kisses.
“Love you, Jackie,” she murmurs against his wispy-soft hair.
“Wuh-voo, Mama,” Jackson tells her enthusiastically.
Rey smiles into his dark-brown eyes. “Are you going to be good for Auntie Rose today?”
Jackson looks at her somberly for a minute before replying with an emphatic, “Mo!”
Rey pets his hair and reluctantly stands up. “Rosie?”
“Yep?” Rose is smiling from the bedroom doorway.
“Are you sure you can handle him?” Rey asks, referring to her naturally energetic son. Rose usually sits for Rey when she works, but Rey rarely works during the daytime when Jackson is awake.
“I got this,” Rose assures her. “And Finn’s coming over later and taking us to the…park.” She spells the last word for Jackson’s benefit, and Rey smiles, knowing the mere mention of the park will send her son into a frenzy of excitement.
“Well. Thanks again.”
Rey slips her black trench coat over her skimpy uniform and blows one more kiss at them both before she heads out the door, ready to take on her newest challenge.
It’s a sunny, gorgeous morning in Queens, and Rey feels her spirits lift. It’s been a while since she’s been out this early in the day heading to work. Usually she’s slinking home at the wee hours of the morning, exhausted and ready for a brief nap before Jackson wakes her.
She realizes it is kind of nice to be out and about during the day.
She kind of hopes she makes it past her client's probationary period, whatever that means, so she can maybe have a more normal schedule.
Just like a regular girl.
Ben Solo runs his hand through his hair for the fifteenth time in as many minutes. His new maid should be here any second and he’s unaccountably nervous.
Not that the Upper East Side penthouse is a total disaster zone, not by any means. It’s just a little dirty.
Well. Maybe more than a little.
He doesn’t mind too much, preferring to hire a cleaning crew to come in a few times a year for deep cleaning. He handles the day-to-day chores with varying degrees of enthusiasm, but generally dislikes the idea of sharing his living space with an employee – another human being who will want to talk to him and interact with him – on a regular basis.
He can afford a whole staff, sure. But at the cost of his privacy, Ben was never interested in sacrificing his solitude for constant interruptions.
He figures a single employee won’t be too terribly distracting.
And he’s tired of hearing Hux constantly nag him to stop living like a miser.
“It’s not like you can’t afford a little comfort,” Hux always reminds him with a sneer. “You’ve got more money than you could ever spend…”
Ben usually sighs at his friend’s old argument whenever it rears its head. Most recently Hux mentioned it because it took Ben twenty minutes to find a pair of matching socks and they were late for his mother’s cocktail party.
“Hire some staff, for crying out loud!" Hux had sniped with annoyance. "At least a housekeeper or a maid or something.”
Ben had merely hunched his shoulders and rolled his eyes, but Hux was right.
After a late-night foray in the fridge resulted in him drinking curdled milk straight from the carton, Ben decided it was time to listen to his friend’s advice.
So, he cleaned up the mess from spewing milk all over his black and chrome kitchen and went online and googled “maid” and found a website with a very thorough questionnaire.
That seemed good.
It asked all kinds of things, things he hadn’t been expecting, even what size coffee cups he uses. But, it comforted him to know he was getting the best of the best.
And it was very discreet. Discreet is good, and Ben prefers to maintain as much privacy as he can, under the circumstances. Plus, the site guarantees his complete satisfaction and he even had to pass a background check before he could hire someone.
That makes good sense, he supposes. A background check will ensure his employee feels comfortable around him. That he isn’t a creep or a pervert or a weirdo.
He paces in the entryway of his penthouse and looks around self-consciously. It’s a bit dusty. He hopes the maid doesn’t mind some heavy-duty cleaning until things can be brought under control.
He sighs again, anticipation mingling with a sense of relief.
It will be nice to have someone to keep track of things like clearing out expired contents of the fridge and making sure he has clean underwear and maybe running a vacuum over the Axminster every once in a while.
And this is something he did on his own, for a change. His mother won’t be able to criticize him for living like a goddamned teenaged bachelor if he takes matters into his own hands and hires his own help. He hates asking his mother for advice, especially with domestic problems he should be able to handle.
Just because he’s never hired anyone before doesn’t mean he can’t use common sense and figure it out. He’s a thirty-two-year-old grown man, for God’s sake.
How hard can it be?
He glances up to the strings of cobwebs stretching from the chandelier to cling to the intricate plaster molding overhead…
Yes. He definitely needs some help.
The bell to the elevator dings quietly, and Ben takes a deep breath.
His mother can’t criticize him anymore, he thinks with grim satisfaction. That's the maid, now. The maid he hired.
All by himself.