Book 1: Sweet Sugar Kisses
“How do you spell ‘rapport’?” a sharply-dressed, older woman asks the younger gentleman next to her. He gives her a deer-caught-in-the-headlights look.
His eyes dart to the cell phone lying facedown on the linen tablecloth. It’s not my place, but I intervene to help him out.
“It’s R-A-P-P-O-R-T,” I say, placing a separate cup and saucer in front of both customers. “Your coffee.”
It’s obvious I’m pouring coffee, but I was taught to quietly announce my movements before executing them so patrons could correct me before I made a mistake.
The man looks relieved. I’m grateful that he’s not upset. I could have possibly stepped on his proverbial toes. You never know how these professional business types are going to react.
Especially to the waitstaff.
The woman turns her head, scrutinizing me with shrewd brown eyes. Her hair is salt-and-pepper, pulled back in a severe bun.
She has black-rimmed glasses, giving her a stern appearance—or maybe it’s the frown on her face doing that.
“What’s your name?” she demands.
Straightening my shoulders, I relax my face and tell her my name. “Alexandra Livingston.”
I hope I appear confident. Not cocky.
Please don’t make a complaint against me. I need this job to pay rent and tuition.
“Livingston, that sounds familiar.” The woman looks at me expectantly.
Yeah, it’s a name commonly thrown around in certain circles, but I’m not about to enlighten her.
“Is this job something you hold dear, or is it just a stepping stone to bigger and better things?”
What an odd question.
“A stepping stone,” I say.
My eyes quickly scan the section I’m in charge of today. Some of my other tables need refills.
I’m pretty sure some of their orders are sitting under the warming light that has the power to turn things from rigid and crispy to chewy and limp.
Plus, it’s busy. And idle chit-chat is not on today’s menu.
“You’re in school then?” she asks.
I nod, trying not to appear anxious to get back to my duties.
“What are you going to school for?”
“I’m getting my master’s degree in Education with a major in English. If you’ll excuse me,” I say politely, attempting to extricate myself from her barrage of questions.
“Would you be interested in a better-paying job while you finish your degree?”
Now she’s gotten my attention.
“It’s not a career,” the woman explains. “But it’s definitely a step above waitressing.” Her faintly-lined features are pinched with a look of distaste at the mention of my current standing.
“It’s a position as an administrative assistant, and if you’d like the job, I can guarantee you the position. All you have to do is say yes.”
Who is this woman who can offer me a job off-the-cuff like this?
“I’m sorry, ma’am. I didn’t catch your name.”
“I’m Barbara Platt. Head of Human Resources for the Blandford Corporation.” She gestures to the man with her. “This is my assistant, Jeff Longmire.” Barbara narrows her eyes at him.
“Although I might consider replacing him.” There’s a small smile on her thin lips and Jeff appears to be nonplussed as he rolls his big brown eyes.
“You know you couldn’t replace me for all the money in the world, honey.” Jeff flicks an imaginary length of dark hair over his shoulder and crosses his legs.
“Anyway, dear”—Barbara is too sophisticated for an eye roll, but I can tell she wants to—“pay starts well over minimum wage. Work hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. What do you say?”
“It sounds amazing,” I say.
But I’m also thinking it sounds a little too good to be true.
“And I don’t mean to be rude,” I add nicely, “but can I get something in writing?”
“See!” Barbara smiles. “I could tell you were a smart cookie.” She pats an expertly manicured hand on the table in front of her assistant.
“Jeff, draw this young woman up an intent-to-hire form.” She pulls something out of the small purse on the table beside her.
“You can report to work Monday at this address,” she says, handing me her business card. “That should be enough time to give your notice here.”
“Thank you, Ms. Platt.”
Jeff hands me the hastily written paperwork that he pulled from his briefcase. After I read and sign it, Jeff takes a picture of it with his phone, allowing me to keep the original.
Thanking Ms. Platt and Mr. Longmire again, I rush to get back to work.
After finding a notice of rent increase on my apartment door this morning, I was sure this day was going to be challenging, to say in the least.
Who could have guessed that that the stars would actually begin to align in my favor? Though, I have to admit, for a girl named Sugar Alexandra Livingston, I’ve lived a pretty charmed life thus far.
Well, not always. And definitely not in the beginning.
My mother was a strung-out prostitute who died shortly after I was born. No one knows who my father is.
They can only guess that he wasn’t Black, like my mother, because I have hazel eyes and skin the color of light brown sugar. Maybe that’s why she named me Sugar. Who knows.
What I do know is that a name like Sugar doesn’t do a girl any favors.
Think about it. Who has a name like Candy, Lacy, or Sugar?
Strippers, that’s who.
Luckily, fate had other plans.
My mother’s older brother, Jonathan Livingston, took me in. He and his wife Macie raised me as if I was their own.
Jonathan and Macie couldn’t have children, so it turned out to be a blessing for everyone. They are my true parents in all the ways that matter.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Dad and Mom would pay my rent and tuition, but I’m determined to do it on my own. I’ve been an adult for a while now. It’s time to behave like one.
My best friend and roommate, Shayla, will be so jealous to hear that I found a job—and a better-paying one—without even trying.
She’ll also be relieved.
Because we definitely need the money.
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