A/N: I'm still kind of awestruck/disoriented that the Harry Potter franchise has reached the end. Just watched HP7 part 2 today and it was awesome! I'm already making plans to watch it again and again LOL!
"Hi," a slim girl with strawberry blonde hair grinned at Edward. Edward found himself eyeing the lady critically. She was considered beautiful, he supposed. But when compared to Bella, there was something lacking. Some element that he couldn't point out.
"I'm Tanya. You must be Eugene," she smoothed her work uniform, her voice still amiable but intoned with slightly more professionalism.
Edward nodded, starting to feel slightly nervous about his new job. People who knew him would never imagine him in the situation that he was in.
He imagined his college friends watching him change bed sheets and vacuum carpets. They would probably die laughing. Choke on their saliva or something.
"The job's pretty simple. We clean up the mess in the rooms. Most rooms are relatively clean. We only need to take out the trash, replenish the toilet rolls and do some basic vacuuming. We also make the beds."
"Are there any extreme cases?"
Tanya grimaced. "Rooms with babies can be quite troublesome. We might have to clean up vomit. Things like diapers with poo are pretty common." Edward shuddered. "Oh and be alert about the signs outside the doors. Some rooms are marked private. For those rooms, we keep them in view for cleaning at the later time."
"Got it," Edward noted, already dreading the job.
"So," Tanya raised her eyebrows. "I hope you can keep up."
"I'll try," Edward laughed.
With that, they started on their housekeeping duties. Tanya made Edward observe her work for a few rooms first. Edward took note of how she knocked and informed the inhabitants of the room that she was from housekeeping before making her entrance. She started work efficiently, pulling out her cleaning tools. Edward watched with rapt fascination as she pulled out the old bed sheets and replaced them quickly, not even requiring help from Edward. She cleared the trash without complaint, and cleaned the bathrooms till they were almost spotless.
Tanya Starbright was one of the unsung heroes that kept his company running.
"So, how long have you been doing this?" Edward asked Tanya as they proceeded to the next floor.
"This is my third year." Tanya revealed. "It was tough as first, but it pays the bills."
"Wow, that's pretty long. Housekeeping's not an easy job. What made you do it?"
Tanya smiled. "I couldn't get any jobs when I first started out. This job came to me because of a friend's recommendation. After working for some time, I realised that it isn't so bad after all. It gives me satisfaction, the people are generally nice. Sometimes things get challenging. But that's what's interesting about the job. Since housekeeping is one of the jobs that require closest contact with our clients, we get to meet lots of different people."
Edward gave her a curious look. "I don't know about the interesting part. It seemed like pretty tough work to me. Especially for a girl like you."
Tanya narrowed her eyes at him playfully. "A girl like me? What are you trying to imply? That girls can't do tough work like guys?"
"No, no," Edward replied, flustered. I just wondered if...there was some sort of a motivation that kept you going... I didn't mean..."
Tanya laughed. "Relax, Eugene. I was kidding. You're right. I do have someone special. He's the driving force in my life, the only thing that keeps me going."
Tanya lit up as she told Edward more about this special someone.
"He's the meaning in my life now, the sole purpose that I'm working so hard for."
"Your husband is one lucky guy," Edward grinned good-naturedly.
Tanya's smile faltered. "No, he's not my husband. I'm divorced, actually. It's been five years now. I was referring to my son. Seth's the reason why I'm working so hard."
"Oh, I'm sorry. I assumed..."
"It's okay," Tanya waved him off."I don't have any bad feelings towards my ex. We were happy once. Even though he's gone from my life now, I'm still grateful to him for giving me Seth."
"You sound like a wonderful mother. Seth is a very fortunate little guy. How old is he?"
"He's turning seven this year," Tanya brightened up.
Edward responded sympathetically. "It must be tough, being a single parent. How are you coping so far?"
"We're doing okay, I guess." Tanya forced a brave smile. "We get three square meals a day. but Seth's growing so quickly and his appetite has grown. Sometimes when I see other kids having fast food and snacks I feel sorry towards my son that we can't afford that luxury. We have to scrimp and save to pay the rent." Tanya's eyes flickered up to meet Edward's. She looked a little embarrassed. "I'm sorry if I'm bothering you with my life story. God. It's just nice to talk to someone, you know. You've been a wonderful listener."
"No problem," Edward replied, giving her a gentle smile. "By the way, isn't there some sort of financial assistance scheme for the staff?" Edward vaguely recalled his father implementing the scheme several years back.
"Yeah I know about it, but I haven't applied." Tanya admitted.
Tanya sighed. "It's just...I don't know how to explain it but I kind of want to earn my keep personally. I don't like the feeling of relying on someone else. I like independence, I guess."
Edward nodded, but kept in his mind to talk to Emmett about the scheme. It seemed that people were unwilling to apply for the scheme even though they had problems. Tanya didn't really admit it, but Edward knew that she was holding on to her self-pride. Maybe they needed to re-evaluate the scheme to making the staff more willing to apply for it.
The day was ending pretty quickly, and Edward was dead-tired after cleaning room after room. He and Tanya had split up to clean up the rooms to speed up the process after Edward decided that he had more or less learnt the basics.
He was reaching the last room when an impish idea came to his mind. He reckoned that Bella was still on duty. It so happened that the occupants of the last room were out.
After clearing the room and making sure everything was spick and span, he picked up the phone and dialled for the reception. He prayed that Bella was the one to answer his call.
"Hello, what can I do to help you?"
Edward pumped his fist into the air.
"I'd like to order room service. And I specifically want you to serve the food." Edward tried to change his tone. He came off sounding like a wheezing chain-smoker.
"Pardon me, sir. I didn't quite understand your...demands."
"What's with you and your questions? Come immediately." Edward hung up.
Shit. The implications of his little act of mischief didn't really hit him. What if Bella threw her temper after realising his little prank? What if she didn't even come at all?
Or worse, what if he was fired from his very first job?
He was panicking when he heard light footsteps approaching. Edward scurried to the door and planted his ear against it. Maybe he could make a run for it. Or hide in the toilet. He wondered if Bella came after all.
"Stupid customer. Must be crazy. What kind of a weird demand was that?" Edward heard faint mutterings from the door.
The doorbell rang and Edward gleefully opened the door.
Bella's jaw dropped into a comical little 'o' when she caught sight of him.
"Eugene?" she shrieked. "It was you on the phone? I should have known! You sounded like you were high on drugs!"
Edward had to laugh at her fuming expression. She was adorable.
He eyed the trolley of food that she was holding on to. Damn, he was hungry. He hoped that she was, too.
"Are you hungry? Join me for lunch?"
"Are you mad? This isn't your room. You can't do as you please! Bloody Mike and his 'customers are always right' theory! I knew I shouldn't have come! We could get into trouble!"
"Relax, the people aren't here. It'll be a quick lunch. I'll clear up after that. Please?" Edward smiled at her beseechingly.
He could sense her resolve weakening. The food smelled good.
"Come on," he said again. "No one will ever find out. We aren't skiving on our job. It is lunch time after all. And we've already got the food."
"But we can't make the customers pay for the food! They didn't even order it."
"Consider the problem solved. I'll pay for it." Edward rolled his eyes.
"Don't charge it on their bill. I'll cover the costs."
Bella gave him an incredulous look. Edward stared confidently back at her.
Finally she sighed. "Fine."
Edward hurried to set up the food. Shit, they looked as good as they smelled.
Grand Meyer Hotel was a top notch hotel after all.
Edward saw Bella eyeing the food greedily as well. He smiled and they settled down before tucking in.
It didn't occur to him that he was no longer the rich son of the hotel's CEO, and he had barely enough money to survive for the next few weeks.
A/N: Tanya's not going to be a threat in this story. She's just one of the people that will inspire Edward to become a better person and to better appreciate his job. It's pretty important for Edward to understand the real problems of his colleagues. That's one of the purposes of getting him to work in the hotel after all.