(Author Note: Because this is Gorgeous and Mysterious Plus, at the end of each chapter, I'll be slipping in some scenes that will never go in the story, backgrounds, and other cheeky things, along with links to concept drawings. Here, it's the turn of a character I never write from the perspective of, with her first job interview...
Léa Gorge attempted to pat down the wispy strands of what she called a fringe as she waited in the entrance-hall of Powell and Co. Publishing. The shapeless block of hair across her eyes would probably have to go if she got the job. Not that Léa would miss it. Her brother had a habit of making fun of the curtain whenever she visited him at Uni. Undergrads! Their societies could be as crazy as a government!
In the shine of glass panelling across the entrance-way, Léa tweaked the rest of her outfit, from the too-long office trousers to the bracelet she wore on her left wrist for good luck.
Was it too much to wear a tie? She tore the accessory from her lapel and smoothed down the cut of the blouse. It clung too much. Léa hopped from one foot to the other. In the distant part of her mind not ultra-focused on what she might well be asked in this interview, Léa was conscious of the sound of stone against heel, and this made her glad, for once, at the fact that there was no one here to see her.
Surely she could not be the only applicant? At twenty, she was probably one of the youngest.
Having identified the sounds of heels as new and not her own, Léa thrust down the loose tie into her handbag and attempted to appear attentive.
A man strode into the lobby, his suit-shirt tight under the pressure of his well-toned torso. By his strides, Léa took him to be Mr. Michells, the man with whom she had managed to secure this interview.
Léa swallowed her nerves.
“Yes, that’s me. Are you Mr. Michells?” It was barely a squeak, but the deep-voiced man replied to her comment as if nothing had been amiss. He was probably used to the flurry of dizzy interns who came and went.
“I am, please follow me.”
With that, Mr. Michells turned and strode off, Léa almost literally at his heels. For every one step he took, she had to take three uneven ones of her own.
Mr. Michells’ office was, unusually, one of the first rooms they came to on the ground floor. From her work placements, Léa had been used to traipsing up three or four flights until she reached the office of the ‘head honcho’. As Mr. Michells held open the door for her to shuffle through into the grey and white room, Léa knew that she had chosen the right place to apply for her first job. That was, if she actually got a role.
Mr. Michells indicated the chair facing the window, before he, too, settled into the one opposite, a large desk between the two of them.
“Bonjour, Miss Gorge, comment allez-vous?”
Léa blinked. “Je suis très bien, merci. Et vous?”
Mr. Michells chuckled again. “Very well. You might be wondering why I started off addressing you in French.” As he spoke, Mr. Michells began to unwrap a cigar and light it. A smoky trail drifted over to Léa’s face as they talked.
“I was reading your application, Miss Gorge, and it caught my eye that your degree was in French Language and Literature.”
“That’s right,” Léa said, wondering where he was going with this point.
“Although you have applied for the post of intern, we will have an opening in our Overseas Publishing department by January, if you’re prepared to wait that long for a place. The full-time position will be dealing with the translation of manuscripts and of rights. I see that you haven’t had much practise with the legal side of the publishing practise, but I can make one of your weekdays a session with the interns and their instructors to get you up to speed there.”
“Oh,” Léa muttered. She cupped her hands together, as if she were praying about the revelation. It was good, she tried to convince herself. Good.
“I was also impressed by your résumé. Redshire Central is one of the best universities for languages, so I’ve heard. Second only to OxcoteUniversity. I’m surprised you didn’t choose to have your degree there.”
“Not everybody gets into Oxcote,” Léa pointed out.
“Sorry… I…” Léa shrugged.
“No matter. What do you think? Are you capable of dealing with the intricacies of a full department? It’ll be a step up from anything you’ve done on placement, I notice. I want to make sure that if I hire someone so young, they’ll be able to keep up with those in the department with experiment.”
Léa’s voice trembled, though she wasn’t sure if it was through excitement or fear of stuffing up now.
“I-” she cleared her throat. “I think so. I want to be able to help out wherever I can. I assure you that I’m open to any suggestions. My use of language has helped me think of ways to involve myself whatever the case. I- yeah, I hope I’m, umm…able.”
“I had hoped you were going to say that, Miss Gorge,” Mr. Michells rumbled.
Another snake of smoke slunk from Mr. Michells’ cigar, making her eyes water. Léa began to cough. Desperately trying to ignore Mr. Michells’ blank face, Léa drew her handbag up onto the table, and rooted through for a tissue. She took no notice of the items she thrust down on the wooden top.
Mr. Michells did. By the time Léa had finished dabbing her sore eyes, he was examining the stretch of black fabric that was Léa’s tie.
“Is this a tie?” Mr. Michells stressed the last word, his disgust in Léa’s liberal views.
“And what is it doing in your handbag, Miss Gorge?”
He was as stern as a college fellow!
"Well, my father always told me it was wise to carry a spare tie with me. Handy as a rope, scarf, um...flag... You know?”
She ceased her pathetic excuses and, in the seconds of silence that followed, Léa wondered if she'd blown it. And all thanks to her personality!
And then, Mr. Michells stubbed out his cigar.
"I like your spunk, Miss Gorge. You were selected for the exact reason that youth is something my company needs a bit more of around her. These are changing times we live in. You're hired, if you accept."
"Then I do! Thank you. Thank you so much, Mr. Michells. I…um…"
Mr. Michells took her hand and shook it in his vigorous manner, before gesturing to the door.
Léa’s inner child was doing what she herself could not: jumping up and down. She almost squeaked and the thrill of working full-time. Just wait until she told Lucas!