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Story - Appease

Prompt - appease

NOT BETA'D


The statuesque blonde smiles at me, but it's not warm. It's sort of...a place holder, something to do with her mouth until she's ready to speak to me.

I smile back in kind, waiting to speak, too. Waiting to hear her say what I already know.

"Well, Ms. Swan, your reputation certainly does precede you."

I keep smiling, adding a gracious nod.

"You've come so highly recommended." Gesturing to the thin stack of paperwork on the little table beside her, Tanya crosses her legs. Her skirt is just short enough that it skims the line of inappropriate, but she's got the legs for it. And she should: a lifestyle of yoga, vodka, and near starvation...and maybe pills; we'll see...would give anyone a body like hers.

"Thank you, Mrs. Masen."

"Please, call me Tanya," she says, just like I knew she would. These society wives are all the same, clinging to what they perceive as the vestiges of their youth.

Again, I nod. And smile.

The static mood in the room would drive lesser prospects away, but I've been doing this for years. I know the games these women play, and I play them just as well. She wants to know if I display class, calm, grace under pressure. And I do. This will be my fifth year taking care of other people's children. I began as a glorified babysitter during high school, going above and beyond with the kids whose family I worked for, and evolved in to a professional nanny sometime during my freshman year of college.

It is now the summer before my junior year, and classes have ended, giving me three months where I can work full time. If things go accordingly, and they always do, I'll stay with the Masen family during the school year as well, attending classes while the twins go to school, picking them up afterward, and basically being their mother while Tanya cavorts around the city.

"Katherine assured me you'd have no problem staying in the house if called to do so," she says, clasping her hands over her knee.

Katherine Whitaker, who I worked for last year. Now she was a gem, and I'd still be employed had they not moved to the opposite coast. But she promised she'd place me with another family, which is why I'm here now, being interviewed by Tanya Masen, second (and much younger) wife of Edward Masen, financial mogul.

She doesn't have nearly the couth Katherine did, but I'm not here because I like her. Nor am I here to be liked. I'm here to be hired, and paid.

"I can do, or be, whatever you need, Tanya," I assure her. "If you'd like me to stay on the premises, I'd be glad to do so. If you'd prefer I kept a separate place of residence, that can be arranged as well."

"No, no. I'd like you to stay here," she says, pretty much securing my employment.

I'm smug inside, but I keep neutral, nodding. Again. Always agreeing.

Tanya brushes invisible lint from her suit. "Well."

Here it is...

"I think you'd be a good fit. The children, of course, will be the ones to make the final call, but...I don't foresee an issue with that."

"When might I meet Irina and Alistair?"

"They're in the Hamptons with my in-laws," she says, tilting her chin up. "And will be returning on Sunday evening. My husband will be here as well...we usually dine as a family during the weekend. You can meet them then."

"Perfect. I look forward to it."

"As do I."

"Thank you for giving me this opportunity," I say, mainly to appease any lingering doubts she might have. Appealing to Tanya's sense of power and control is one way I can keep her under my control. "I appreciate it."

"You're welcome, Isabella."

We rise, and I follow her out in to the hallway. I slow down a little, fascinated by the never ending parade of photographs adorning the walls, color and black and white, posed and casual, current and past. It's endearing, and it brings life and warmth to this cathedral of a house.

One picture in particular catches my eye and before I realize it, I've paused altogether.

"Oh, those are Edward's other children," sniffs Tanya. "From his first marriage."

I gaze at the boy and girl, similar in face but not in stature. He's much taller than she is, but they're both dark haired and beautiful, devastatingly so.

"Are they...do they live here?"

"Here? In this house?" she laughs, a little maliciously. "Thankfully, no. Their comings and goings are mercifully brief."

I keep my frown hidden, not caring to upset the tenuous balance I've achieved with the "lady" of the house.

"I see," I say, even though I don't.

"Alice is about your age...she lives in the city, in a place of her own," Tanya says as we start down the hallway again. "And Edward...the second...has just graduated from Dartmouth."

"Oh."

"They have rooms here, and keys, but their lives are elsewhere," she continues. I'm not sure why she's explaining all of this, but I'm admittedly nosy, so I let her. She's done, though, saying nothing else until we reach the front door.

"It's been a pleasure, Isabella," Tanya says, extending her hand.

"Thank you, Tanya. It's been a pleasure for me, as well," I echo politely.

We share one more fake smile before she shuts the door.

I turn and let myself out, confident about my job. Outside the day is lush with sunshine, the street lined richly with trees. Central Park West is a grand, lovely neighborhood...and if all goes according to plan, it's about to be mine.