WARNING: THIS STORY CONTAINS GENDER BENDING AND MIGHT NOT BE TO EVERYONE’S TASTES.
“Sorry Michael. You were one of our best workers, but times are difficult recently.”
Those simple words that his boss told him were what sparked the change in his life. Returning to his house while being extremely tired from all the mental stress from being fired, the young man spent the remainder of the day simply recovering from the shock.
However, much to his bad luck, the evil landlord of his somehow caught notice of that fact and decided to ask for the rent earlier that month.this quickly ended in an eviction notice giving him three days to pack his stuff and get out. Anyway, he and and the landlord never saw eye-to-eye and both knew that they’d rather never see each other again any time soon.
While he could take the case to the court and probably even get some money back for such abuse of authority, he decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle, so he simply agreed by slamming the door in the landlord’s face.
That still didn’t help the fact that he had become both jobless and homeless in the span of a day. Not exactly lucky, but it’s not like he didn’t have some safety measures in place
He spent the next few days looking around for another place to rent and another job to get. However, being homeless didn’t exactly help him with getting a job, while being jobless made finding a place willing to rent him a room even more difficult. It was a damned vicious cycle that led to him being one day of getting kicked out and still have no job at all.
Since things had gotten so dire, he had no choice other than to give a call to his old caretakers.
“Hey, can I come back for a few days?” Michael asked.”
“Of course you can! Heck, why did you even leave in the first place?” The old man sounded just as spirited as ever in the cell phone.
“I couldn’t just stay around being a bother to you. You know that already.” Mike stated, packing his things up.
“Bah. Bullshit! You’ve never been any trouble! Even the girls think so!”
“Ah… Yes… The girls…” Michael said awkwardly, which seemingly went unnoticed by the old man. How exactly could Michael tell him that the girls were half the reason why he decided to move out in the first place? “Anyway, i’ll only stay until i find a good job and a place to stay.”
“Sure sure. Whatever.” The old man replied with a sigh. “I’ll tell the girls to ready your old room meanwhile.”
Hearing him say that, Michael finally sighed and turned off the phone after giving his goodbye to the old man. An awkward feeling crossed his chest as he recalled the old man and his family. They were the ones to take him in after his parents had died in a traffic accident, seeing how they were friends with his own family. They were a happy and cheerful bunch and since the beginning he was friends with the two granddaughters of his, he couldn’t even think of saying that his times with them were sad. One of the girls was around his age and the other one was almost ten years younger. Since their parents, the old man’s daughter and son in law, were usually abroad working, it ended up that the family was mostly the four of them.
Well, that was until a year ago, when things became a bit awkward and he decided to move out and start living on his own. Being a hard-working boy by nature, he felt a bit guilty seeing that he was being taken care by the family without actually doing anything in return, and thus he quickly found himself a job as soon as he was done with university.
One year later, he had saved enough to move into a place of his own.
Or at least, until a few days ago. Since he pretty much only had his own clothes, as everything else came with the house, he took up his bag and left the house.
Of course, he didn’t lose the chance to say some really rude things towards the landlord before leaving.
As soon as he arrived before the large gates of the old man’s house, Michael took a deep breath and prepared himself for what was to come. However, right before he could even lay his hand upon the door, he heard some excited footsteps rapidly approaching him. Widening his eyes surprised, he instinctively turned towards the source while dropping all his bags and managing to grab the assailant in mid air.
“MIIIIKE!” The little ball of energy shouted excitedly while clinging to him with enough strength to make one doubt her status as a kid. “YOU CAME BAAAACK!” She shouted while wiggling her feet happily.
“Hey Shaunny.” Michael said while hugging the young blonde girl clinging to him. Being around eleven or twelve years old, she was the younger of the sisters who lived in the house, and from the looks of it, was just coming back from shopping, seeing how she was holding a plastic bag in hand. “If you are here, i guess that means…”
“Ah. Mike. You are early.” A gentle and mature sounding voice echoed, and just like how their voices contrasted, the owner of the voice was just as different from the younger girl as one would think. With long black hair, pale skin and a calm demeanor, it made one wonder if they truly were sisters. “We just got back from buying the ingredients for dinner.”
Seeing as she looked at him with a gentle, yet happy smile, Mike couldn’t help but feel a bit dejected. From the looks of it, she really didn’t seem to be bothered by what happened at that time. Heaving a sigh in his mind, Mike quickly put on a friendly smile and said.“Yeah, it’s good to see you again, Amy.”
Her smile widened slightly while she nodded before fishing a key within her dress’ pocket. Amy opened the gate and guided Michael in as she heard about his circumstances. At no moment he noticed any kind of sign that she was acting strangely, which only served to leave him a bit more worried.
Maybe he was thinking too much into it? Maybe what had happened wasn’t as big as he had thought?
He quickly dismissed the thought.
He was one hundred percent sure he had confessed to her that day. Called her to a quieter part of the house and told her his true feelings.
‘I’ve liked you since we’ve been kids! Please go out with me!’ He had said.
Her reaction? She asked him where they were going.
Thinking about it, it kind of sounded like she had misunderstood the meanings of his words, even though it should have been clear the meaning behind them. It’s not like someone was capable of simply misunderstanding it, right?
As the thought crossed his head, Michael glanced at Amy who was now casually commenting on her grandfather bothering her about trying to get Mike to come back to the house.
He sighed. If there was someone capable of misunderstanding the meaning behind those words, it would be Amy. Despite her mature personality, she was surprisingly air-headed from time to time, as well as being really bad at studying overall. Thankfully, she was talented at the arts of housekeeping.
Even then, just going and confessing to her again was unthinkable. It took him his entire life to gather the courage to do it the first time, so there was just no way he could do it in a moment’s notice like this.
“Neh! Mike! You aren’t going to leave again, are you?” Shauna asked while helping him settle down in his old room, which had been left just like how it had been when he first moved out.
“I’ll probably move out as soon as I find another place willing to rent me a room.” He replied in a slightly hesitant tone, and he didn’t even need to look at her to know she had a sad expression. “Geez, no need to be worried. It’ll probably take some time before that happens. I still have to find a place to work before even thinking about moving out.” He said while smiling at her.
The girl nodded weakly before sighing. Taking a deep breath, she suddenly made a guts pose as she psyched herself up, and before he had the chance to react, she once again had tackled him, getting him by surprise.
“Hey, Mike. Since you are back, does this means that you’ll be going back to gramp’s dojo?” She asked him curiously, which led to Mike frowning slightly.
“Probably not. I left the dojo so i could focus on working and studying more.” He explained. “Besides, i really doubt that knowing a martial arts of some sort will help me land a job anywhere.”
“Muu…” Shauna pouted for a moment. “Won’t you join in just a little? Just a tiny little bit?” She asked him with upturned eyes. “Gramps always said that you were the best of his students… Even better than big sis.”
“Nah. That’s just the old man talking to my ego to try and keep me in the dojo.” He said while rubbing the girl’s head, who replied with a cheerful ‘Nyah’. “Still, why do you want to know if i’m going back to the dojo?” He asked confused. As far as he could remember, Shauna never showed any interest whatsoever in her grandfather’s hobby.
“Well… Some things happened… And i started learning a thing or two…” She said while taking a step back and looking downwards to the left. Michael quickly recognized that as the sign that she was hiding something. However, seeing that she didn’t want to talk about it, he didn’t pursue any further.
“I see. Sorry Shaunny, but i don’t plan on going back.” He suddenly stopped and turned back towards the door. “And yes, that goes for you too, old man.” He said.
“Drats. I didn’t even get to use my argument.” The short grandfather appeared from behind the door while scratching his white hair. “Are you serious boy? Not even for just a short time?” He asked him.
“And in that short time you’d get me signed up for some kind of tourney, and never let me drop the dojo again by continuously giving me things to do since you know i hate leaving things half done.” Mike replied drily. The old man clicked his tongue before taking something in his hand and throwing it towards Micheal. “Huh?”
“Newspaper. Thought you would want to look for a job offer in there.” The old man explained while putting on a dry smile.
Looking at the bundle of papers in his hand, Mike finally noticed that it was indeed a newspaper. However, for the old man to have this in hand, it looked like he was already planning on helping him anyway.
“…Geez, can’t be honest at all. Damned geezer.” Mike said with a mocking smile as the old man walked away. “I guess i can at least help clean the place up.” He said while picking up waving at the old man.
For the following days, his daily life quickly fell into the routine he had from before leaving. He would wake up in the morning and help the old man and Amy clean up the dojo, following by looking for a job through the newspaper and helping Amy with her university studies. Shauna, different from her sister, was actually doing quite well in school, so she mostly accompanied them without requesting for help.
During the afternoon, while the two were out of the house, he would leave and go to any interview he had managed to book, and when he didn’t manage anything, he’d simply browse through the web while searching for a job or simply relaxing for the moment. During the night, after the old man’s disciples had all left, he would once again help with cleaning the dojo and sometimes give a pointer or two to Shauna, who would train on her own.
Occasionally, the two girls would bring some of their friends over. Shauna mostly brought a group of four girls with whom she would either make a mess in the main room, or hole up in her bedroom. Meanwhile Amy’s friend was a cheerful girl who would try and get Amy to drink something every chance they had. Though it mostly ended up with her and the old man getting drunk together.
On the job side of things, Michael wasn’t having much luck. Even though he dutifully looked for any offers in the newspaper and through the net, not even once he was considered for a job, since he lacked any superior study.
That said, at least he managed to catch up with the recent news. Something that was a bit difficult when he had been working day in and day out, and using any free time he had to amuse himself with some reading, like the economic crisis his state was in finally showing signs of ending, a new pop idol that was on the rising and, mostly amusing, the silly rumors that there were some witches living in his city.
And that way, three weeks went by.
Until he found a certain advertisement on the newspaper that really reached out to him.
“…Mike… That’s sounds too fishy.” Shauna said with a deadpan look after he told her of his finding.
“I know, right?” Mike replied with an awkward smile. “But I’m sincerely running out of options here.” He commented downheartedly before reading the announcement again. A job where there was no need for experience, all that was required was to be confident in physical prowess and reaction time to receive a massive payment. Women were preferred, but if need be, they were accepting men. There was the catch that minor details would be arranged through an interview, but that’s really not an issue when you are desperate. “Well, I can take care of myself if need be. Even then, worst case scenario the old man will level their building or something.”
“Hmm… I… I still think that you shouldn’t go.” One of Shauna’s friend said. A small and shy girl who came more often than the others. After around a week or so of hiding, she finally grew used to him and started talking more often.
“Thanks for worrying Pris, but i can’t really pass up this chance.” He sighed exasperated. “I already called them and marked the interview for later today. That said, with so little requirement for such a good pay, i kind of doubt that i’ll pass through the competition… If this is not a scam, of course.”
“Fu fu fu fu! If needed, we’ll rescue you ourselves!” Another one of the girls said with a smug tone and proud pose. A red-head that was just as energetic as Shauna herself. At her words, the two others flinched slightly at her silliness.
“Sure you will, Fran.” Mike said with a kind hearted smile. “But before you talk about saving me, what about you go back to saving your grades? You are still getting this question wrong, you know?”
She frowned in worry and fear at his words before turning back to her notebook. Laughs and giggles echoed from the others in the room as she finally resigned herself to her fate.
“Lunch’s ready.” Amy’s voice echoed as she entered the room, and seeing the strange atmosphere, she tilted her head confused. “Ara. Did something happen?”
“Yes! Mike here is thinking of taking a shady job offer!” Fran said while pointing at Michael and shoving the newspaper on Amy’s face.
The elder sister blinked surprised and stared at the newspaper for a long time, a slight frown forming in her face as she tried to see what the girl meant. After a long moment with the whole room becoming tense, Amy finally tilted her head and said.
“…I don’t see anything shady here?”
Fran’s head slammed straight onto the table as the others once again started laughing at her failed attempt to change the subject.
“Give up, Fran. Big sis was your worst choice in trying to pull that move.” Shauna said while patting the girl’s back, leading to a confused Amy who simply tilted her head and rested her finger on her chin, not really understanding the situation.
The closer and closer he got to the root of the offer, the stranger it seemed to get. The reason for that was that, despite the odd and fishy feeling behind the offer, the place where he was heading to was far from shady. In fact, the metallic building in the middle of one of the city’s main streets was far from fishy.
He started feeling glad that he didn’t simply go with casual clothes and went with the idea of wearing a more formal wear. While he didn’t have the funds to rent a full suit, he still could afford more formal clothes than his usual tee and bermudas.
Wearing a light blue social shirt and dark pants, he even had Amy comb his usually unruly brown hair backwards and apply some gel to see if it would even remotely increase his chances
Still, even with all his preparations, he was still nervous before the interview.
“Well, confessing to the girl you like is a lot scarier.” He commented dryly before shaking his head.
At the very least, with Amy being completely oblivious to his true feelings on the case, it was a lot easier to go back to their usual relationship than he would have thought.
He felt that it’s not something he should be happy about, but that wasn’t the time to worry about it too much. Taking a deep breath and psyching himself up for the task ahead, he put on his confident face and entered the building.
“Excuse me. I came for the job interview.” He said to the receptionist on the desk. The girl, blinked surprised before snapping out of her surprise.
“Sorry. I wasn’t expecting someone to come for that…” She replied with an awkward smile before pointing towards a corridor down the hall. “It’s just that way. Fourth door to the left. No need to knock.”
“No one came for the offer yet?” He asked confused at her reaction.
“Yes. Even though it’s already the third month they’ve rented that room, you are the first person to actually come for the interview.”
“…Really?” He asked doubtful, but the secretary only nodded. “Even though the offer is so ridiculously good?”
“Is it that good?” She asked curious. “I personally never saw it, so i can’t be sure…”
“Well, yeah… I even was starting to think it was a scam.” He said confused, his feelings slowly getting more complex the more he heard about the situation.
Still, since he had already this far, might as well take it to the end. While thinking so, Michael took a deep breath and thanked the secretary one last time before walking towards the room. Gripping the folder in which his resume was written, he gripped the door handle and turned it.
“Excuse me. I’m Michael Abrams. I came for the interview.” He said out in a serious tone.
What met him was an empty waiting room with a door open leading to another room, where a single woman stared at him in shock. For a good second, the two of them stared at each other, giving him a good chance to take in her appearance.
Long blonde hair falling up to her shoulders and a pair of beautiful blue eyes that seemed to suck him in. A perfectly formed face without a single trace of blemish nor make up. She wore a light grey attire that matched her pale skin, giving her a gentle appearance.
After a moment she finally smiled gently at him, and as if a spell had been broken, he found himself able to move again.
“Welcome, mister Michael.” She greeted him while resting the book she was reading on the desk. “I’m glad to see that you arrived.” She said, her melodious voice leaving no doubt that she was way out of his league.
“Ah. Good afternoon. You must be Vivian? The one i talked with on the phone?” he asked, and was rewarded with a gentle smile and a nod.
“Indeed. I take it that the thing you hold in your hands is your resume?” She asked before turning towards the folder in his hand. “Do you mind if i take a look at it?”
He nodded while passing her the papers. She took them and started going over the things written upon it. Being somewhat used to this, Michael took his chance to sit down on a nearby chair and awaited patiently for her to refer to him.
“Hmm, Michael. It says here that in your previous job, you worked mainly as a secretary and or driver. Is that right?” She asked him while raising her eyes.
“That’s correct.” He nodded in agreement. “It was a small family-run company, so I ended up doing a bunch of things to fill in the gaps.”
“Well, forgive me if i sound suspicious, but these doesn’t sound like very physically intensive jobs.” She said while closing the folder and laying it on the table. It’s not like there was a lot to go through anyway. “Yet, we asked for someone with good physical prowess. With jobs like those, it doesn’t sound like you are very used to labor-intensive tasks. Do you have any reason why you believe that you’d fit in this position?”
“Ah. Yes. If it’s about that, i believe it wouldn’t be a problem.” He said confident. “I practiced martial arts at my caretaker’s house previously, so i had a fairly intense training regimen. While there has been some months since i dropped out and i may be a bit rusty, I didn’t let myself lose my shape completely and should at least be above average when it comes to that.” He regretted thinking about it, but it seemed that the old man’s training might actually have helped him get a job this time. While smiling to himself, he put on a serious yet confident expression that seemed to satisfy Vivian.
“Indeed. If that’s true, then i’d have no need to doubt your skills.” She said with a nod.
“Erm… Excuse-me, Miss Vivian.” He said, a slight frown forming in his expression. “In the ad, you said that women were preferred… Was there some reason for that?” More importantly, was he in risk of losing the position just because he was a man?
At his words, Vivian became slightly surprised before sighing and smiling helplessly. For a moment Michael became worried about the meaning behind that alluring expression, but before he had the chance to ask, she raised her hand and made a motion for him to calm down.
“There’s no need to worry.” She said while holding a sigh. “The truth is that, while we would rather hire a woman, we aren’t going to turn you down only because of your gender.” She hesitated for a moment, as if not sure if she should say what she had in mind or not, before finally shaking her head and saying. “To tell the truth, the main reason behind that is that our boss suffers from androphobia.” She said with an awkward smile.
“Andro… Oh. I see…” Michael said before nodding worriedly.
“No need to worry. We do have our way around that problem.” She explained. “I won’t say it’s the best workaround, but it works, so we can’t complain.”
“I see.” He nodded. “Anyway, could you tell me what the job is about specifically? I don’t believe you mentioned it yet.”
“About that, you’ll mostly be doing some odd jobs here and there while testing some products our company makes.” She explained briefly. “You’ll most likely have to do some grun… janitor-like jobs at the beginning, since we are a bit lacking in the manpower department.”
“I see… Well, even if that’s the case, i wouldn’t really have a problem.” Michael said. “I’m used to helping cleaning the house anyways, and a bad job is better than no job. No offense.”
“Heh. None taken.” She replied with an amused smile. “In fact, that might even help you keep your hopes up while working with us.”
For a moment, her words didn’t exactly sink in as he tried to understand what exactly that meant, and after a moment, he finally widened his eyes in shock and surprise.
“Yes. You are hired.” She replied with a smile while picking a small card from the pocket on her suit. “Come to this place tomorrow at ten. We’ll get you started.”
“…Really?” Michael asked surprised.
“That’s right. It’ll be my pleasure working with you.” She said with a smile.
“I GOT IT! I GOT THE JOB!” Michael shouted as he entered the house. However, besides Amy who was reading a magazine in the main room, there was no one else in the house.
In his excitement, he had forgotten that the old man had left the house for the afternoon while Shauna was in school. After recalling that fact, he smiled awkwardly while sitting down on the table besides Amy, who was smiling happily for him.
He told her about how the interview went and that he would start working on the next day. Amy offered to wash his clothes so that he could go to work with the proper attire, but since Vivian said that there was no need for formal clothing, he said that there was no urgency.
Still, since it was a joyous occasion, Amy decided to take the chance to cook something fancier for dinner that day, so she and Michael set out to buy the ingredients. They went through the market to buy the material she needed, and by the time they were done, it was roughly time for them to go pick Shauna at school, so they decided to make the quick detour.
The young girl was extremely happy to see her sister and Michael go fetch her, however, she became shocked once she heard the news from the two.
“…You actually went there, Mike?” Shauna asked confused.
“…And it wasn’t a scam?” Pris asked surprised.
“I’m as surprised as you guys are.” Mike admitted. “That said, i’m still going to be careful when I get to work tomorrow. Still, I somehow doubt that’s actually the case.”
“Heeh. So Mike is going to work in some shady place?” Fran asked while laughing mischievously, only to receive a hit on the back of her head from Shauna who looked at her angrily.
“Isn’t it great? He was so sad since he couldn’t find a job.” Amy said absentmindedly, smiling happily. “I’m even going to cook something special for us tonight!”
“…Mike, you should get shady jobs more often.” Shauna said with shining eyes as she looked back to Michael.
“That’s not something you should say, young lady.” Michael stared down at her, but she only stuck her tongue out and puffed her cheeks.
“Wait, doesn’t that means that you’ll move out soon?” Shauna asked as she made some mental calculations.
“Well. I never planned on staying for too long anyway.” Mike replied with an awkward smile. “I can’t keep imposing on you…”
“You aren’t imposing on anyone.” Amy cut him short while smiling gently. He turned to her and his smile grew a bit happier, but he still shook his head.
“Even if you say that, i don’t really like just…” He started explaining himself, but was cut short.
“You can stay as long as you want.” Amy said in a gentle tone.
“Anyway. We need to go home right now. Or else i won’t be able to finish dinner on time.” She said while turning back to Shauna and her friends while smiling. “Will you bring your friends over tonight?”
“E-E-E-Ermmm… N-N-No… I… I have to go home. Yeah, Mom will get me soon.” Pris said while hiding behind Shauna and cowering slightly.
“Andiwastotallygoingtohavedinnerwithpristonightsoiwon’tbeabletogotonightsosorrypleasedon’teatme…” Fran said hurriedly while trying to step back, only to be stopped by the school’s wall.
“Hmm… That’s a shame.” Amy said while putting a hand on her cheek and looking disappointed. But she just shook her head and looked around. “What about the other two? Are they coming?”
“N-N-NO… They already went home.” Shauna said while shaking her head.
Amy sighed disappointed once again before nodding. With that, she told Shauna to say her goodbyes to Pris and Fran before moving on back to their houses. Right before they left, Michael could hear the two commenting that they had no idea that Amy could be so scary.
Michael wholeheartedly agreed with them, as he hadn’t the courage to disobey an order from Amy whenever she had that smile.
On the way back, Amy happily greeted the neighbors on the way back, who all made a confused expression as a shiver went down their necks without them clearly understanding the reason. Meanwhile, Mike and Shauna both walked a few steps behind her so that they wouldn’t have to bear witness to her smile.
“Say, why did she get angry?” Mike whispered.
“I-I think she doesn’t want you to move out?” Shauna murmured.
“B-But she wasn’t like that when i moved out last time.”
“She thought you were moving to a place nearby.” Shauna explained before swallowing some saliva worried.. “You didn’t see her back then…”
“I-I see…” Mike replied awkwardly.
However, he couldn’t help but smile a bit to himself. Knowing that the girl he liked didn’t exactly want him to move out once again did make him happy. Though he couldn’t be entirely sure whether it was a brother, friend or as a man.
Whatever it is, he couldn’t help but feel a little happy.
He still planned on moving out, though. Even if one of the reasons he had moved out of their house was because he felt awkward around Amy, it wasn’t the only one. He also wanted to be able to provide to himself and not bother their family for much longer.
“You are thinking bad things again, aren’t you?” Amy said while peeking over her shoulders with a slightly cold glance..
“Nope. I’m not. Entirely innocent. Thinking about food. And job. Food and job. Yeah.” He rapid-fired excuses while shaking his head nervously. What was that? Did she have some kind of sixth sense? While he wondered about that, Amy humphed in satisfaction before turning back to the front.
Somehow, it seemed like the hurdle to moving out was a lot bigger this time around.
After an extremely tasty and cheerful dinner, through which Mike and Shauna were sweating profusely in fear of Amy’s wrath.
And somehow she had managed to notice every time he would think of moving out, which made it all the harder for him to make his plans for after he got the job.
On the following day, Michael woke up earlier to get ready for his job. Putting on a black shirt and some jeans, he took his time to briefly shave the stubble on his face before preparing to leave. Holding himself back from celebrating as he received some boxed lunch from Amy, he prepared himself to leave with a wide smile, only to be pulled aside by Shauna.
“You are leaving your cellphone on, right?” She asked him, and he nodded.
“And i’m leaving the GPS on too, mommy.” He said jokingly. “And if anything happens, i’ll send you a message.”
As he said that, he showed her his cellphone, which made her sigh and nod before looking over to her oblivious sister. While this may look like an exaggerated worry, the job still had its sketchy side, so they had set up these just as a last case situation.
Still, Michael didn’t have the feeling that it would be such a situation, so he wasn’t all that worried. But to leave his young friend a bit calmer, he still decided to take the precautions just to be safe.
With that over, he gave his goodbyes to the girls and headed to the nearest bus-stop. Taking a ride up to the city’s center, he wandered around for a bit while searching for the address that Vivian had pointed him towards during the interview. It took him some time, but he soon found a small building that was next to the main-street. On the floor level there was a small clothing store.
With a brief look through the store front, he noticed that it was a girl’s clothing store. Vivian had told him about this previously, so he wasn’t that surprised upon seeing that. However, from what he could see from the front, it seemed that besides the usual things one would see in such stores, there were also some fairly intriguing clothes, such as gothic wearings. From the antique looking dresses to the boots that would match said dress.
Still, it was only a section of the store that had such items.
Walking in through the front door, he got the attention of those present since he was… Well, a man.
However, the moment he mentioned Vivian to the store’s manager, he was sent to the back door and up a stairs, leading to the office part of the store. The store-clerk simply knocked on the door and told him to go in while saying something about not being allowed in that part of the store. Michael was a bit confused, but thanked her nonetheless.
Hesitating for a moment, Michael stared at the door for a brief time before finally taking a deep breath and walking in.
“Hello? ” He said while entering the building. “I was just hired and Vivian said I should look for her.”
As he walked in announcing his presence, he checked the room around in wonder. It was a simple corridor that led deeper inside. With an open door nearby, he announced himself while knocking on it.
As he entered the room, the sound of something falling down echoed, and he blinked surprised only to see a small desk in the office with a knocked down chair behind it. Surprised, he tried to see what was happening, but a voice stopped him.
“Ah…. N-New guy! You came early!” A man’s voice came from behind the desk. It only took Michael a second to add one and one and understand that he had surprised the guy and he had fallen down. However, before he had the chance to approach and help the man up, he went on. “N-No need to worry. I’m used to this.” The man waved off. “Anyway, you should go see Vivian. Just go to the end of the corridor and you’ll find her.”
“No, are you sure you don’t need help?” Michael asked confused, but the man simply waved it off again.
“I’m fine, i’m fine.” He said as his hand appeared above the table giving a thumbs up. “Don’t mind me and just go ahead. The boss is awaiting you. I’ll be up as soon as pick up my things that fell down around here…”
Michael looked at the man for a moment in doubt, but finally nodded and left the room. No sooner he did that, he heard a sigh of relief coming from the office.
For a moment he felt annoyed, but remembering that he didn’t know the circumstances happening in the company, he calmed down
But when he heard all the other doors in the corridor being slammed shut just a few seconds later, he started feeling uneasy. Crossing the corridor until he reached the last door, he couldn’t help but feel worried that even the commons’ door had been slammed shut.
“Come in!” Vivian called him before he could even knock. While he was surprised for a moment, he turned the knob and entered the room.
Entering what seemed like a secretary’s room, with a large double-door leading to what probably was the boss’ room, he saw Vivian sitting on the top of the desk while shuffling through some papers. Different from the previous day, this time she wore mostly an informal sundress and a pair of sandals, letting her hair free. Michael almost got entranced by her again, but recovered himself and approached her.
“Good morning.” He greeted her, and received a slightly surprised glance from her for a moment.
“Good morning Michael.” She replied gently, with none of the formal tone from the day before. “Glad to see you came. Also, you arrived earlier than what I expected.” She said while standing and greeting him with a handshake and warm smile.
“Well, can’t arrive late for my first day of work, can I?” He said smiling, before a frown formed on his face and he turned back. “That said…”
“Don’t mind them.” Vivian addressed his worries. “They aren’t doing that to bully you. They… Well… You’ll understand later.” She said in an awkward tone before turning to the desk and picking up something from the desk. “Anyway, as your welcoming gift, take this.” She said while handing him a small paper bag that fit in his hand.
“I didn’t even start working yet and i’m already receiving a gift?” Michael said surprised.
“Remember what I said about the chief having her way of dealing with her fear?” VIvian said, looking somewhat troubled.
It took him no more than a moment to understand what she meant by that. Nodding, he opened the small bag and was slightly surprised by what he saw. It was a beautiful-looking necklace. While he wasn’t sure what the material was, it reminded him of some kind of black silver, if that even made sense. Hanging onto the necklace was a brooch in an X shape, made of the same material.
While looking at the necklace, he couldn’t help but feel that it had a strangely mysterious look to it, while at the same time looking like it wasn’t finished. Why he felt like that, he didn’t know, but it certainly gave him that feeling.
“The chief herself made this for you.” Vivian said with a gentle tone. “She really has a talent for making jewelry. Most of the store’s best pieces are made directly by her, you know?” The secretary said while eyeing the necklace with a warm expression.
“…I guess i should wear this then?” Michael said, stretching the necklace around his neck and fiddling with the lock behind his head. “Not that i don’t like the present, but any reason for this?”
“That… Well, you’ll understand.” She replied mysteriously. “And i guess i owe you an apology in advance.”
Michael replied with a confused tone to the woman’s sudden words, but before he had the chance to understand, the lock of the necklace closed by itself as if magic, and suddenly he felt a strange wave of coldness covering his whole body.
He opened his lips to try and say something in surprise and shock, but not a single sound escaped his lips, because as soon as the wave of cold hit his body, he felt his own consciousness escaping his grasp.
While giving Vivian one last betrayed look, he fell forward into her arm as he finally lost consciousness. His last thought being that Shauna was correct, and that he couldn’t reach his cell phone.