Catering to His Holiday Needsbymernie99©
"Shelly? Is that you?"
I turned around to see a familiar man standing behind me in the gourmet shop. Not knowing if I should embrace him or shake his hand, I opted for the former, giving him a warm bear hug. "Mr. Van Summerin!"
Austin Van Summerin was a former neighbor, three houses down. Even though he had no kids of his own, the kids on the block always considered him to be the "cool guy." On any given weekend day, you'd find Mr. Van Summerin either working out in the yard or tinkering in his garage. And yet he was never too busy to shop what he was doing and chat with a neighbor, adult or child. He watched our street games, providing encouragement and advice. And, by far, he had the coolest house on the block when it came time for Halloween and Christmas. He was a happy-go-lucky type of guy in his mid 20s, tall and lean, a bit nerdy but with a cute baby face and a slight gap between his front teeth. About five years ago he moved away; Mom said that the Van Summerins divorced.
He continued, "So, you must be in college by now."
"Yep, I'm a sophomore at State." I paused, "How have you been? We miss you around the neighborhood. The kids don't know what to do when their bikes gets flat tires."
Austin smiled and said, "I miss the old neighborhood, too. I moved into a condo on the golf course. Great view, but I miss my garage." Austin looked me over and continued, "You've grown into quite a pretty young lady, Shelley."
I smiled broadly. I thought of Austin as my favorite uncle, always supportive and encouraging. Admittedly, the last time I saw him I was flat-chested and sporting braces. I'm not exactly a knockout, but boys have noticed me. I'm 5-6, a bit on the boyish side, with narrow hips and smart breasts. I tan pretty well, and since I live in Florida, it's pretty much a year-round look. My hair is thin, straight, and blonde, falling slightly below my shoulder blades. I've been told I have a cute face. Frankly, I'm not crazy about the slightly upturned nose, but most people like it.
"Are you doing some last minute Christmas shopping?" Austin enquired.
"Not really. I promised Mom I would take care of the Christmas Eve party this year, so I'm looking for some goat cheese. I guess that's what happens when you major in Hospitality. Everyone expects you to plan the parties."
"Hospitality?" Austin asked, looking puzzled. "That's a major?"
"Yeah, sure. Hotel and restaurant management. There's a great need for that sort of thing in Florida, you know. Actually, I wanted to go to a culinary school, but my parents said it had to be a four year college. But I've been taking lots of cooking courses, so I can't complain too much."
Austin got a twinkle in his eye and said, "Oh, Shelley, we need to talk. I'm kind of in a fix right now."
I looked at Austin quizzically and asked, "What's up?"
"I don't know what you know about my work, but I'm branch manager for a computer company here in Orlando. It's a nationwide company, with 12 branches, and I've got the southeast territory."
I replied, "No, I didn't know that. Not a surprise, really, as we knew you were a techie."
"Exactly!" Austin continued, "I know computers, electronics. I can manage my staff. But I can't deal with parties."
Now I was curious. "Parties?"
"My branch is hosting a big negotiation with a new German supplier. It's apparently huge. I'm not really involved with the deal, to be honest. Our all the big-wigs from corporate are down here. They like Central Florida much better than Chicago this time of year. For the last two weeks I've been nothing but the errand boy for the company brass. Apparently, the negotiations will be winding down tomorrow."
"Well, that's great!"
"You'd think," Austin continued, "but this morning the CEO pulls me aside and suggests that we need to have a post-negotiation cocktail party. He wants it to be intimate, suggested that we meet over at my place."
Sarcastically I noted, "Oh, great!"
"I called the maid service and they are cleaning the place now. But here's the thing. I can't find a caterer. Do you know how hard it is to find someone at the last minute, and for the Friday night before Christmas?"
"I can imagine!"
"It was suggested that gourmet shops might be able to help. The guys in this shop just handed me a menu and said, 'Let me know what you want and we'll see if we can get it to you. No promises.' Shelley, I have no idea what to do."
"Can I see the menu?" I enquired.
Austin handed me the flier. "They crossed out the ones that they know are not possible."
"That's two-thirds of the list. God, unless you like crab dip and crackers, you might have a problem."
"The CEO said to spare no expense. He emphasized classy. As if I have time for this. I'm working on the year end numbers."
"What can I do to help, Austin?"
"Can you figure this out for me? Maybe order the food and liquor? Maybe help prepare and serve, perhaps finding another friend to help you? I can pay you very well."
"Actually, it sounds like fun. I'd probably do it for free, but I won't complain about some extra Christmas cash."
"That's a yes, then?" Austin asked.
Austin took me out to lunch, where we discussed the details. It turned out to be a bit more than I expected. He needed his condo decorated for the holidays. A well-stocked bar was expected, as was a wide selection of finger food. And the catering staff (that would be me and a friend) was to dress the part. And all this arranged in a day and a half.
By 3 pm I presented a menu to him, which he enthusiastically accepted.
He gave me $1,000 cash for supplies, asking me to keep all receipts. We exchanged cars, as I needed his SUV to haul decorations. When we met up at his apartment at 5:30, his vehicle was loaded down with a 12 foot Christmas tree, a dozen poinsettias, a large wreath, and boxes and boxes of decorations.
Austin went out to meet the car. Popping up the trunk I asked, "Can you give me a hand?"
With a smile, Austin said, "No problem. Where's the bicycle tire?"
"Smart ass!" I replied.
Austin went right to work unloading the car, and then set the tree up and strung the lights. At the same time I was arranging the decorations on the wreath. Without looking up, I mentioned, "I called my friend Brianna, and she says she's willing to help out. She said that she'd look for some sort of an outfit for us to wear tomorrow and would head over after she finds that. She'll help decorate, too. Brie is much better at this artistic stuff than I am. Oh, yes, and she's an experienced bartender."
"Good find. I'm feeling much better about this party knowing that you are on the case."
"It's not over yet," I admitted. "Say, as soon as Brie comes over, I'm going to have to bail to go shopping for food. Which reminds me, did you get the liquor?"
I wasn't yet 21, so I couldn't purchase the liquor.
"Not yet," Austin responded. "I dropped your list off at my liquor store on the way home. They said they'd have it ready for me any time after six." Austin paused and continued, "We might actually pull this one off."
Brie arrived a bit after 6:15.
"So, what will we be wearing tomorrow?" I asked her.
"Well, you told me classy," Brie began, "but since this is going to be a holiday party, I decided we should have Santa hats as well."
Austin and I looked at each other and nodded our heads. "Sounds good," accessed Austin.
Shelly emptied the contents of her shopping bags on the table. In a loud tone, I said, "Brie, that's not classy. That's trashy." For each of us, she purchased a tight red top, showing the midriff, a low and obscenely short skirt, and "hooker" high heels. "This looks like something you'd find at Hooters," I complained.
"It's not that bad, Shell. The material is satin. And it's going to look real cute with these matching Santa hats."
I looked over at Austin to support my position. "Actually," he started, "I think it could work. Besides, all of the guests will be men. Hell, I might even get a promotion by having two college hotties serving them."
Brie playfully stuck out her tongue and gave me one of those, "See, I told you" looks.
A day later Austin's house was spotless, decorated for the season, and the food trays were largely arranged.
Brie and I went into the spare bedroom and started to change into our outfits. With a sigh of disgust, I said, "Brie," I'm a size 7, not a size 5."
"Oh, sorry, Shell."
"Have you seen my bra?" I asked.
"Your bra?" she aped innocently.
"Yeah, I brought one with me this morning," I explained.
"You aren't wearing one now?"
"You may not have noticed this, Brie, but I'm not exactly well stacked. I just slipped on a sweatshirt this morning. But I brought a bra and it was right here on this chair."
I could tell by her smile that she was playing with me.
"Brie, this is serious. What did you do with my bra?"
"I thought it would be more fun if we didn't wear them."
"Brie. C'mon. Our guests will be here in less than a half hour. Where did you hide it?"
"It's not here, Shell. Remember the guy who delivered the seafood?" I nodded. Brie continued, "I kind of gave it to him as a tip."
"You WHAT?!" I was visibly upset. Things had been going rather well until now, and I didn't need this. I paused and continued, "I know that you have always been a bit of a slut, and I don't normally have a problem with that. And if this was our party, I'd be game. But it's not. This is supposed to be a classy cocktail party. My friend could get in trouble for this."
For the first time, I saw regret in Brie's eyes. "You're right. I'm sorry. I wish I could fix this, but I really did give your bra away. Try it on, Shell. It may not be as bad as you think."
Actually, Brie was right. Unless you were staring, you couldn't really tell that I was braless. After getting dressed, both Brie and I stood in front of the mirror. We were an odd pair. Both blonde. Both about the same height. But she had thick bouncy hair and was amply endowed on top, with a full face and lips. I, on the other hand, was a stick.
"Oh, Shell, I wish I had your tan," Brie remarked. "And your face is perfect. You don't even need make-up."
I reached over and gave Brie a hug. Just when I was feeling so self-conscious about my appearance, she finds a way to make me feel good.
"I guess this isn't so bad after all," I admitted. "Listen, I've got a few more trays to load. Come out when you get the chance. And, remember ... professional ... not slutty."
"I'll remember." As I walked out the door Brie added, "And I really am sorry."
Austin had hired a limo, so the gentlemen arrived together a bit after six o'clock. Brie positioned herself behind the bar, ready to pour drinks. I picked up a tray of hors'doerves and headed towards the guests.
"Good evening. Would you care for salmon?" I asked the first guest with a smile.
"Sure thing, baby," he replied. I later learned that this man, balding, with a round but pleasant face, was CEO of Austin's company, Phil Metz.
In the entrance way I caught a glimpse of myself in the full-length mirror. To my surprise, my nipples were now quite erect and visible. Because we adjusted the air conditioning to accommodate the increased number of guests, the room was chilled. Unfortunately, there was little I could do about that fact.
The lead negotiator for the German team, Peter, was actually quite handsome ... for an older guy at least. He was tall and muscular, with a full head of blond hair and perfect teeth. Brie took to him right away, shamelessly flirting with him. So much for keeping it professional, I thought to myself. Brie never had a shortage of men wanting a drink or some light conversation from her.
An hour into the party, now circulating my 5th tray, Austin pulled me aside and whispered, "Nice job" into my ears. It was kind of him to acknowledge that, but I could tell the party was a success by the laughter and animated conversation heard throughout his condo.
A little while later, Brie pulled me aside and asked, "Can you cover the bar for a while? I need to use the bathroom."
"Sure, no problem." I placed a few trays on the table and moved over to the bar. The change was actually quite pleasant. Instead of fretting with food, I was able to socialize with guests. Two from the German delegation, Hans and Dieter, ambled over and started flirting with me.
"There must be something in this American water," Dieter noted, "Because all the women here are so sexy." Dieter was in his mid 30s, perhaps, the most serious looking of the Germans. He was on the lean side, had dark hair, and wore black rimmed glasses that made him appear bookish.
"Look, she's blushing" Hans noted. Hans was a bit older, perhaps in his 40s. He seemed to have the best command of the English language, with only a hint of accent in his voice. He had round wire frame glasses, was blond, with a receding hairline.
Trying to stay professional, I said, "Can I freshen your drinks?"
"I could another gin and tonic," Hans suggested.
"Coming right up," I replied cheerfully.
"So, what I want to know," Dieter said, "Is where are we going to have our turn with you?"
"Pardon me?" I enquired.
"Like Peter and that beautiful Brianna."
I was still confused and shrugged my shoulders.
"You haven't noticed that they are both missing?" Hans asked. I looked around for Peter and he was nowhere to be found.
Internally, I was fuming. God, what a slut, I thought to myself. So much for being professional.
Phil, the CEO of Austin's company, approached us and said, "Excuse me gentlemen. May I have a private word with this young lady?" After Dieter and Hans moved away, Phil whispered in my ear, "The other girl, she's missing."
"Yes, I think she's in the powder room," I replied back in a low tone.
Phil smiled and shook his head from side to side. "Oh no, baby, she's not in the bathroom. I've put her on a special assignment."
"You did?" I asked with a bit of surprise in my voice.
"I offered her a nice bonus if she would take care of our German friends."
I truly didn't know what to say. This was pretty low, but I couldn't exactly criticize the CEO. Slowly I managed to say, "I see."
"I want to extend the same offer to you. $1,500 bonus."
My first reaction was to say "no." But then I thought about the money. During the fall semester I worked 15 hours per week in the cafeteria. For the whole semester I don't think that I made that much money. $1,500 ... for what? I'd be spreading my legs for a few hours. It's not like I was a virgin. OK, so it was almost like I was a virgin. There had only been two boys, before. The first guy broke my cherry and then lost all interest in me. And then there was a boy my freshman year of college, Brad. We dated for a few months, and slept together a total of four times.
I swallowed hard and said, "Thank you all the same, but I was hired by Mr. Van Summerin to provide catering services. My first priority has to be helping him."
"If you really want to help Mr. Van Summerin, then perhaps you should think long and hard about keeping the big boss happy."
"I'm not sure I follow you," I replied.
"I need to consolidate a few of the branches. Your friend, Mr. Van Summerin, may or may not be having a Happy New Years. If you want to do what's best for this man, then I strongly suggest that you accept my offer. Capiche?" Phil paused and then added, "I'll give you five minutes to think about it."
Austin noticed the change in my demeanor and immediately rushed to my side, inquiring, "Did the old guy intimidate you? He's pretty good at that."
With a forced smile, I reminded Austin, "He's your boss, not mine. He was actually very nice. Apparently he made a very generous offer to Brie to entertain your German friends."
"Entertain?" he asked.
I nodded my head. "I believe they are in your bedroom now. Mr. Metz extended the same deal to me."
"Oh, Shelley ..."
"It's a very generous offer, Austin." With my best acting face, I continued, "And, besides, the Germans seem like a lot of fun. Uh, you won't let it get back to my family, will you?"
"You're seriously considering this?" he asked.
"Actually, I've already accepted his offer," I lied. "If you'll excuse me ..."
I walked towards Phil. I tried to act calm and mature, but found myself nervously twirling my hair. "OK, I've decided to accept your offer."
Phil grinned at me, slapped my ass, and said, "Glad that you've come to your senses, girl. I can't wait to get my cock in your mouth."
"You told me that I was to entertain the Germans," I pointed out.
"And so you will, girl. So you will." Phil's eyes moved toward the right and then said, "I see your friend has returned." Brie and Peter reentered the room. Brie was animated, laughing loudly. Her hair was slightly mussed, and her outfit looked a bit disheveled.
Phil cleared his throat and spoke up loudly. "Gentlemen, I want to thank you all for working so diligently these last few weeks. I think we should all be proud that we arrived at an agreement that should be very lucrative for both companies. I understand and appreciate the personal sacrifices that all of you have made to attend these sessions, being away from your families so long, and particularly during this holiday season. But, tonight, gentlemen, I hope that we can take advantage of Austin Van Summerins' hospitality. Austin, I can't thank you enough for pulling this together so quickly. You have a lovely home and I, personally, feel like I have been filled with the holiday spirit."
I looked over at Austin, who seemed genuinely touched by Phil's sentiments.
Phil continued, "I'd also like to thank our lovely hostesses for this evening, Brianna and Kelly."
(Shelley, I thought to myself. It's Shelley.)
"I've never seen two hornier college girls in my life. Men, I think we need to help them out. Kelly here just told me she was dying to swallow my seed. Anyone that wants to watch, follow me back. I promise you that she's got a big appetite, so don't you worry. You'll get your turn. And, Brianna, why don't you stay out here and serve up the rest. Men, when she asks, Coffee, tea, or me? she really means it." With a dramatic pause, Phil concluded, "Anyhow, again, thanks for the hard work, everyone. Time for some hard play."
Phil laughed loudly at his joke. Most of the other men laughed politely.
Brie leaned into me and whispered, "I've never met someone so full of shit."
"Tell me!" I returned. "This is why I'm not a business major."
Phil spoke up loudly again. "Oh, one more thing. The limo is at your disposal. Anytime you want to return to the hotel, the driver will be glad to take you. Enjoy the food, the booze, the company, and Merry Christmas."
In a low voice, Brie continued, "I think the big boss is pretty drunk. And lucky you. You get him first."
"Yes, we Kellys are just so lucky."
Phil grabbed my hand and said, "Let's go, babe." As we were heading towards the bedrooms in the back, two of the men from the Chicago office approached Phil. They explained that they were tired and were heading back to the hotel. These men were enjoying the party prior to the announcement. I surmised these were family men, with no interest in breaking their marriage vows. Phil shook their hands, slapped one on the back, and then thanked them again profusely for their hard work.
I suspected that most men would choose to stay with Brianna. Not only was she prettier, but she was furthest away from Phil. As it turns out, five of the seven remaining men followed in my direction. First of all, there was Peter; he had just had his way with Brianna and was likely curious about the other girl. Hans and Dieter followed as well. And, to my surprise, so did Austin. I felt quite funny about having my old neighbor in the same room. Was he curious about me, or just there as my protector?