tagRomanceValerie and the Bachelor Ch. 02

Valerie and the Bachelor Ch. 02

bycarvohi©

So Valerie, office unknown, little girl everybody ignored, had been invited to the boss's big party. The boss, Marcus Burke, had been her idol ever since he'd paid a little attention to her when she worked at data processing. He'd taken her on a couple casual lunch dates, nothing great, even bought her a coffee once or twice, but it had affected her. She had the biggest crush on him any woman ever had for any man. He was her hero, her knight in shining armor. She'd gone all out for the party, new dress, new hair do, new everything. The party, this was supposed to be her big chance, her moment to shine. She'd get him to notice how sophisticated, how cosmopolitan, how really beautiful and smart she was. Then came the terrible disappointment. When she reached the party she was side tracked into becoming a serving girl, a maid. It sounded like an important way to help her boss, maybe even get noticed, but once she stepped out where the party was going on, she knew the truth. She was just the little nobody again. Dressed in a cute little maids outfit, patent leather shoes, white stockings, puffy white lace trimmed short sleeves, silly white peter-pan collar, fluffy little panties, tidy little white lace trimmed apron with a big bow in the back. She even had a white bow in her hair, she knew she was, just like at work, poor little Valerie, the girl everybody overlooked.

To her surprise, she didn't stay poor little unnoticed Valerie for very long. The man whom she had originally perceived as the butler descended on her. "Where have you been? Here take this tray and note pad. Pass among the guests and ascertain what they would like to drink. Identifying, obtaining and serving drinks shall be your primary duty until dinner is served. Mr. Burke is standing over there. The man pointed to a far corner. You're to keep an eye on him at all times. He's relying on you."

Valerie took the pad, pencil, and small tray, and she set about finding Mr. Burke. It didn't take long. She found him amid a large group of very well dressed men and women. The men were guffawing and the women were hanging on his every word. He was poised, handsome, and debonair. He was the center of the universe. Every comment, every observation, she could tell, revolved around him.

Keeping a safe distance between from Mr. Burke she walked among the guests. She was being vigilant for conversation, and for requests for drinks. She passed by Mr. Burke several times. She hoped he'd notice her. Perhaps, she thought, he'd acknowledge her in some secret way. Maybe he would give her a surreptitious wink? Perhaps he would condescend with a slight nod? Two or three times she passed by quite close, but he never, not once, gave the slightest indication she was even alive. She'd hoped for so much more. After more than an hour a simple nod or a wink would have made her evening. Her wonderful fantasy, her dream evening, had turned to ashes. Once she passed so close her elbow brushed his sleeve. He didn't even see her. He looked right through her. She really was the invisible girl. Tears welled up in her eyes.

One person did see her, a woman, and she made a point of signaling for her. Valerie saw the woman, a little short of stature and slightly heavier than the norm, waving a finger in her direction. As quickly as she could Valerie moved to where the woman was seated. She recognized the woman as someone who like bourbon and who liked to talk to the men. She was pretty. She had on a pale blue blouse and black skirt that came just to her knees. Her modest obesity was no impediment to her good looks. In fact, Valerie noticed she was one of the women the men seemed to gravitate to. She was either a very important person or a very personable one. Valerie thought, if she ever met this woman out someplace she'd probably like her. Once she got to where she was sitting the woman asked her to lean over.

The woman took a kerchief from her pocket, spit on it, and wiped Valerie's left cheek. Showing Valerie the red stain on the kerchief she said. "I see you've met Hannah and Hilda."

Valerie didn't know who those people were, and she didn't know what to say to this woman. So she said the only thing that seemed appropriate. "Ma'am?"

The seated woman gave Valerie a generous smile. "Hannah and Hilda are sisters. They're employees here. One of them must have kissed you on the cheek before sending you out."

Valerie realized who the woman was talking about. "Yes. They dressed me, and one did kiss me on the cheek."

The woman held out her hand. "She got you good. My name's Rosalind." She leaned and gently tugged on Valerie's collar forcing her to lean lower. "I'll bet you're Marcus's secret agent."

Valerie played dumb. "I don't know what you mean."

Rosalind asked. "What's your name."

Valerie answered. "I'm sorry. I'm Valerie Carlyle."

The woman named Rosalind asked. "Tell me Valerie Carlyle. What do you do when you're not serving drinks at private parties?"

Valerie had to make something up. "I work for a catering company headquartered in town."

"That's good. Very good." Then she dismissed Valerie with a smile and wave of the hand. "You can run a long now."

Valerie was glad to get away. Rosalind, or whoever she was, was the first, and thus far, the only person who'd actually noticed her. Up to then she'd been disappointed in her anonymity. Now she preferred it.

After Rosalind it was a long time before she was noticed again. The next time it wasn't nearly as pleasant.

Occasionally someone stopped her. They would ask if she could obtain a certain kind of mixed drink. She'd write down the request, go to the bar, secure the requested beverage and return it to the appropriate person. As the early evening wore on she started to receive more requests than she could easily keep up with. She wasn't having trouble getting the drinks, but the people would order from one location and then migrate to another part of the room. To overcome this Valerie started making little notes on her pad about what they might be wearing or some unique aspect of their appearance. This all went along fine for nearly an hour. It was helpful in getting the job done, and it helped assuage her disappointment. Then one of the guests glanced down at her harmless little note pad.

The woman who espied the pad asked. "What are you doing?"

The woman didn't sound very nice. "Are you taking notes on what everyone has on?"

The tone of her voice made Valerie uncomfortable. "Are you planning on buying some of these expensive gowns after you leave work tonight?"

The woman seemed to want to embarrass her. "You don't think you can afford any of these nice things do you?"

Valerie had been very careful all evening to be discreet in her notations. Excepting for Rosalind no one had noticed her all night. She was surprised anyone noticed this. She stopped and spoke to the woman. "No. I mean yes. I am taking notes on people's attire and appearance, but that's because people keep roaming around the room. This way I can more readily match the drink with the person who ordered it."

The woman took the pad and looked more closely. "Let me see. Who is this? It says sallow cheeks and squinted eyes. That isn't me is it?"

Valerie, reaching to get the pad back, responded. "Well actually no. That was somebody else. At the time I think they were being forced to squint because the lighting was too strong."

The lady held the pad away. She intrusively pointed at the notepad again. "You know what I think. I think you're a rude brash girl. I don't know where they got you, but I find your little scratch marks on that pad offensive."

Valerie was taken aback. There was no hidden purpose to her notations. Their purpose was only to be an assist in getting the right drink to the right person. She said. "I'm very sorry. I can assure you these are strictly personal notations only to help me find people when bringing them their drinks."

The woman sneered. "Stupid aren't you. Can remember from one moment to the next." She made a nasty joke. "Must be the public schools."

Valerie felt like everyone in the room was staring at her. Many were! It was like they were accusing her of being some stupid girl. It seemed that way. Her eyes started to well up with tears. She didn't know what to say. She just stood there, hands holding her little tray, the pad now sitting on it innocuously. "I'm sorry. I'm really very sorry." That was all she could get out without crying.

Just then Mr. Burke appeared. It was as if he came out of nowhere. He looked at the disgruntled guest. "Pamela, whatever is the matter?"

The woman, now known as Pamela spoke. "This person, this maid, is writing offensive little declamations about all your guests."

Mr. Burke looked at Valerie. "Is this true?"

Valerie was visibly upset. Her tear filled eyes started overflowing. "No sir. I've just been making little notes to myself about the guests so I would be able to get their drinks to them correctly if by chance one moved to a different spot while I was ordering and bringing their drink."

Mr. Burke looked at her closely. He said in a serious tone of voice. "Let me see the note pad."

Valerie handed him the pad. She was visibly shaking. She never intended to offend anyone. Why had the woman stopped her? She wanted to go home. She was sorry she ever came. She didn't belong here. She wished she could put this whole terrible night behind her.

Marcus looked the pad over. He looked at Valerie. He looked back at the woman. She was standing with a nasty smirk on her face. He turned to the woman called Pamela. "Well Pamela it was nice having you here this evening. I hate to see you leaving so early, even before dinner. Mr. Burke then turned to the man Valerie identified as the butler. He said. "Brian get Ms. Brainham's coat. She's leaving now."

The woman now identified as Pamela Brainham looked at Mr. Burke in shock. "You're telling me I have to leave?"

Mr. Burke replied. "I'm afraid so. I'm telling you that you have to leave. Good bye."

The affronted woman gave Valerie a menacing look. She looked back at Marcus. "You're taking up for this, this serving person?"

Marcus answered. "Yes!"

Valerie noted how emphatic the yes was.

"Yes!" He continued. "I am taking up for this serving person." He gave Pamela a menacing look that matched the one she'd given Valerie. "We all serve someone or other. Don't we?"

The butler arrived with her coat.

The Pamela woman turned. "Thank you Brian." She obtained her coat and stalked off.

Marcus turned and gave Valerie a meaningful look. It made her want to crawl into a hole and hide, just run away somewhere. He said. "If this is how she would treat someone who is only trying to help me, then how would she behave around someone I wanted as a client? No, I don't need anyone like her." His demeanor abruptly changed. He gifted Valerie with a gentle smile. Handing her back her pad he said. "Nice list. Keep it up." He walked away without another word.

Valerie stood there in utter amazement. He had expelled a guest because they had been mean to a maid. She thought. That's a good man there. Then she thought. That's one of the reasons why I'm doing what I'm doing. I understand. He's gotten to know me. He trusts me. He knows I wouldn't do anything ill mannered. Using me he can single out those he doesn't want around him. Valerie thought some more. I don't know whether to be flattered or angry.

Shortly after the incident with Ms. Brainham the chef announced that dinner was ready, and that the guests should all start for the dining room. As he was making his announcement one of the original two ladies who had assisted Valerie earlier in the evening intercepted her. "Ms. Carlyle." She said. "Of course you won't be needed serving the dinner. We've set aside a small table for you in the kitchen. It isn't what you expected, but you'll have an opportunity to eat the same things the other guests are having. You'll find the food is quite good."

Valerie answered. "Thank you, I'm not especially hungry, but I'd love the chance to have something to drink and perhaps sit down a few minutes." She followed the lady into the kitchen area, where, in fact, she did see they had set aside a small area for her. She thought. I'm not going to let this upset me. The idea that they have put me out in the kitchen is to be expected. I'm doing Mr. Burke a favor, and I know now his interest in me was strictly as any tool he would use in his business. I'm one of the help, and this is where the help eats. Having reconciled her hurt feelings with some good old fashioned rationalization Valerie sat down to enjoy a cool beverage and a small taste of the dinner she had hoped she had really been invited to.

The guests started wandering into the dining room, but Marcus Burke, host for the evening, made his way into the kitchen. He was looking for Valerie. He wanted to thank her for her efforts thus far, and ask her to continue in her role as assistant and maid throughout the rest of the weekend. Entering the kitchen he asked one of the kitchen personnel if they had seen the drink hostess. The cook said she was in the adjoining storage room eating. Marcus went to that room.

He found Valerie inside the small storage room sitting and having a short drink of water. He thought she looked lonely, maybe a little forlorn. "Hi Valerie?"

She turned around and responded. "Oh hi Mr. Burke."

He felt bad about where she was sitting. It was a cloistered little space. Probably nothing like what she expected. "I'm really glad you accepted my invitation to come tonight, and I'm doubly glad you volunteered to pick up the slack regarding serving drinks." He was trying to be cheerful. "You have no idea what a help you've been."

Valerie gave him a wan smile and answered. "I'm glad I could do some good."

Marcus noticed the smile. "You've been a big help. I mean it. Can you do me another big favor? He hesitated.

Valerie sat very still. She had a suspicion whatever he wanted wouldn't be something she'd enjoy. She gave no response. She just sat very still.

Recognizing she wasn't going to jump up and ask what he wanted. He went on any way. "I want you to continue helping with the drinks after dinner. I don't expect things will run too late this evening. I have about seven, well now only six people who are staying over until Sunday night. Valerie, if you could see your way clear? I would really like it if you stayed on for the weekend. I'm sorry, but I'm asking you to stay as a server. If you would I'd be really grateful. If you don't want to I know you probably have other things to do. And I'm sure those other things would be more enjoyable than going around here helping other people have a good time."

Valerie felt trapped again. Gee, he was asking her to do something she had never intended, but it was for him, someone she thought she liked. She didn't want to do it, but she gave him the answer he wanted. "I'll stay."

Mr. Burke walked over to where she was sitting and sat down beside her. He took both of her hands in his. "I can't stay any longer I have to preside over dinner, but I want you to know you're a real trooper. I can't thank you enough." He continued to hold her hands for another moment. "You know you look absolutely beautiful tonight. That maid's uniform looks like it was custom made for you." He took one of his hands and using his thumb, and index finger ran them over the peter-pan collar. "Ms. Carlyle I really think a lot of you." Would I be out of line of I gave you a kiss?"

What was she supposed to say? "You can kiss me."

Mr. Burke leaned over and gently placed a kiss on her lips. "I think you're wonderful." Then he got and left to entertain his guests.

Valerie finished her small meal, and had another glass of water. She returned to the main room at just about the time all the dinner guests were finishing their meals. It was late, and most had to leave. Another smaller group of guests stayed for after dinner cocktails. It was Valerie's responsibility to see that everyone got served. Valerie had to admit she was getting tired. She hoped this affair would end soon. She felt more than a little glum. She had hoped she would be the belle of the ball, and as it turned out she had been demoted to maidservant. Valerie decided she would give Mr. Burke one more morning and lunch, but tomorrow at 1:00 at the latest she would be leaving. That would get her home later in the afternoon, and give her time to salvage the remainder of the weekend.

Close to 11:00 the last guest not planning to stay the night left, and the remaining guests had been shown to a room. The two ladies who had side tracked her at the start of the evening found her, and said all she had left to do was collect the discarded drink glasses and take them into the kitchen. Once that was accomplished she was to see Mr. Burke in his private study.

Valerie hadn't thought she'd be degraded to glass collection, but with a sigh of disconsolate resignation she moved about the room collecting the last of the evening's debris. Close to midnight she found herself with nothing left to do. After asking one of the other cleaning people where Mr. Burke's study was she went off in that direction.

She found his study door was slightly ajar. Valerie knocked quietly. Mr. Burke heard the knock, saw her standing at the entry and, with his hand, summoned her in. "Valerie." He said. "I'm glad you made it. It was a long evening wasn't it?"

Valerie responded. "It sure wasn't what I expected."

Mr. Burke walked over to a large leather sofa and sat down. He patted the seat beside him and said. "Come over here Valerie."

Valerie walked over and sat down.

Mr. Burke continued. "Yes, I guess it was a surprise. I bet you're tired. I'll show you the room where we've placed your clothes so you can get some sleep before you start again tomorrow, but first I'd like to visit a little." He smiled and waited as she settled in beside him. "Valerie, how long have you worked for our company?"

Valerie answered. "About six months."

He continued. "Then I suppose you're pretty comfortable with most of our operations."

She said. "Well I know a little bit."

Mr. Burke spoke again. "Valerie I've decided to find you a new job in the corporation. It's a job for which I think you're ideally suited. One I'm convinced you'll enjoy once you get then hang of it."

As he was speaking one of the two ladies from earlier on the evening appeared with two glasses of wine. It was a dark red wine. The glasses were placed on the low mahogany table in front of the sofa.

Mr. Burke picked up the two glasses. "Here have a little wine." He started to sip the wine from one of the glasses and proffered the other to Valerie. He continued. "Ms. Carlyle your work around here tonight has been invaluable to me. Indirectly through your actions a corporate saboteur was exposed, that was Pamela Braintree. As you traveled the room I was able to watch the actions and the reactions of several of my other guests, and thanks to that two more people were also determined to be unacceptable. So you see you've played a key role in the success of the company. In fact what you did tonight far outstripped all your earlier work, as prodigious as that has been. That's why I want you to come here and work as a kind of standing silent assistant. What do you say?"

Valerie was listening, but the wine was making her more tired and a little light headed. "What do you mean a standing silent assistant?"

Mr. Burke went on. "Well for instance tonight. No one here knew you worked for the company. They considered you just another serving person. In that regard you were able to insinuate yourself into situations where you could hear conversations without their knowledge. As they talked I discreetly watched their body language, and was able to confirm my suspicions about two more people. So you can see what I want you to do. I want you to stay here at my house and function as a kind of spy. It not only will be financially rewarding for you, but it will be exciting. Additionally, you'll have more than the usual amount of free time, and you'll have ample opportunities to take advantage of the many amenities available here. Also, you'll be doing something for me that I'll always appreciate."

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bycarvohi© 10 comments/ 18329 views/ 3 favorites

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