Feeling her throat go dry, Sophie took another sip from the glass and handed it to Rance. “Go on then,” she said. “What are you thinking?”
“My dad suggested it and I think it’s a great idea,” he said, then downed the rest of the soda and put down the empty glass. He rubbed his hands together, then took both of hers. “You can intern for us.”
A slight frown creased her brow. “I don’t even know what that means,” she admitted, feeling rather stupid.
“Well, it’s just a try-out for a permanent job, learning as you go and there are lots of different places for you to try if one doesn’t fit you. It’s a huge company, and Dad's always hiring fresh new people, so there's a good chance you can find a job there that you like, a good paying job with benefits, and I know you. You’re smart, hard working, and creative and imaginative. You love to learn and try new things. I’m sure you’ll excel. I’m more sure of you doing great than me!”
“But…but I don’t know nuttin ‘bout no corporation work!” she said, in a truly horrible southern accent.
Rance burst out laughing. “And that’s why I love ya!”
“Because I don’t know nuttin ‘bout no corporation work? That makes no sense at all!” she said. “You want me to single handedly bring down your company? Cuz I’m pretty sure I can do it without trying.”
“No, you could never do that, cuz you would try. Sophie, you’re fun to be with and charming and gorgeous. According to my dad, that’s just as important as being competent and everybody that’s ever known you for more than half a minute knows you’re way competent. People will like you cuz you’re fun to be around and you make them feel good without even trying. You have people skills so coworkers will listen to you when they like you and they will trust you when they see you have confidence in yourself and in them, and they'll love your can-do attitude cuz it spurs them on.”
“You sound just like your dad!” she said, but she shook her head. “I still don’t see that I can do this, Bug. Don’t internships at huge corporations usually go to college grads with MBAs from Wharton and law degrees from Harvard? I had barely one year at Miami U and I didn’t do much there, you know better than anybody! I skipped most of my classes to be touring around Florida with you and the guys.”
They were interrupted by another knock on the door.
“What is it?” Rance said, impatiently.
Ronnie came in again, wearing a sheepish expression. “Sorry…um…your father is looking for you, Rance. The orphan kids are getting ready to go home and your father said he has presents for them in the car.”
“Oh, shoot! Totally forgot about that,” he said standing up.
“Your dad bought presents for the orphan kids?” Sophie asked, stunned. "How does he even know about them?"
“He does every year since the beginning,” Rance said. “He knows the founder, he’s good friends with him so…”
“Your father knows the founder of the Littlest Angels orphanage?” Ronnie said, stunned. “Who is it?”
“Morris Kramer, of course. You must know him. I saw him at the party with his new wife,” Rance said, curiously watching the astonished expressions on both faces. “What’s up?”
“Yeah, we know him, don’t we, Ronnie?” Sophie said, laughing.
“What’s so funny?” Rance said.
“Nothing,” Ronnie said, looking distinctly uncomfortable.
“Morris Kramer is Ronnie’s new grandfather. He married Ronnie’s grandmother,” Sophie said.
“Dude, that’s way cool,” Rance said. “He told my dad how happy he is to finally have heirs for his vast fortune.”
“Yeah, well…your dad says you have the car keys,” Ronnie said.
“Yeah, I do,” Rance said, first searching his pants pockets, then looking in his suit jacket. “Found them.”
“Listen, just give me the keys and I’ll help your dad with the gifts. You stay here and… finish up with Sophie. I think your dad will want to leave soon after this.”
“Thanks, man,” Rance said, tossing the keys to him. “Really appreciate it.”
“Thank you, Ronnie,” Sophie said, giving him a radiant smile which almost made Ronnie’s heart stand still.
“No worries,” Ronnie said, his eyes for a moment lingering on Sophie before closing the door behind him.
Rance turned to Sophie and caught the look on her face as she stared at the closed door. “You’re still in love with him,” he said, and it was not a question.
She shrugged. “What does it matter? He doesn’t want me, remember?” she said. “I’m just a step-sister to him.”
"Sure he does," Rance mumbled. He sighed and sat back down. “I wish you would give up on him, like really forget about him and give… give somebody else a chance,” he said, almost angry.
“ Forget about him, Bug…. Geeze, it’s going to take me forever to remember to call you Rance,” she said. “So, how would this internship work? I mean, would I be able to go to Columbia at the same time or…”
“Actually, no,” he said. “It would be impossible to do both. An internship is more than a full time job, like ten to twelve hours each day, maybe more if required and remember you're competing for this job so the more you put into it the better you look to your supervisor who is the one who evaluates all the interns. So, you're more likely to get picked over the others if you impress him or her. Also traveling is involved which is even more time on the job."
“Where would I have to go?” she asked, suddenly quite eager to learn more.
“All over the world,” he said casually. “Depending what department you’re in and what you get to do…. mostly domestic travel at first, but eventually wherever we have interests…which is nearly everywhere. Europe, the Orient, South and Central America.”
She bit her lip and thought for a minute. On one hand it sounded exciting, really amazing, and it definitely was an awesome opportunity to see and experience so much, but on the other, she would be in competition with much older and smarter college grads with real business degrees. What chance could she have of succeeding when she had all that against her? None, that’s what!
“I…I dunno, Bug,” she said, anxiously. “Have no idea what my mom would think of this. I know this would be an awesome opportunity, but she was so set on me going to college. I just don’t think I’m up to it.”
“I thought you might think that. I had another idea that might be better for you in the long run,” he said. “And it would be great for me.”
“You can work for me, with me. You could have a real job right now as my personal assistant,” he said eagerly.
She frowned. “Like…do your dry cleaning, get your lunch, walk the dog and get your car washed?”
He laughed and shook his head. “No, I can take care of my own dry cleaning and lunch is usually brought in for my dad's staff so I don't have to worry about that. Also, I’m allergic to dogs and I don’t have a car. Don’t need one in the city,” he said. “I mean as my personal assistant you’ll be right beside me every step of the way, helping me so that whatever I learn you would learn, so we could help each other and you’ll have a pretty good starting salary, better than an intern’s.”
Her eyes widened. “How good is pretty good?” she asked.
“Well, let's just say you won't believe how good, but we can talk about that later,” Rance said. “Think about it, okay? You don’t have to decide right now. Talk to your mom about it, ask your uncle what he thinks, your cousins, even the Stroganoff boys.”
She laughed. “Romanoff!”
“Whatever. Thing is, Sophie, we’d be good together,” he said. “We always have been.”
“We’re definitely awesome together. You’re my best friend, you know,” she said.
“I thought Cassandra was your best friend,” he said.
She shrugged. “She had been, but we’ve drifted apart, so....”
He stared at her. “Do you remember when we met?”
She rolled her eyes. “That stupid bereavement support group.”
He laughed. “Everybody was three times our age…”
“Whining about losing husbands and wives that they admitted they didn’t even really like…”
“And trying to hook up with each other,” he finished.
“Ugh! I don’t know if you were there when this guy… I swear he was old enough to be my great-grandfather… he came up to me and asked me out. He literally wanted to take me to a dance at his retirement village. I was like, eww, gross!”
They both grimaced and burst out laughing.
“We can laugh about it now, but back then we were…” Sophie said.
“In serious need of help,” he said. “So glad I went just cuz I met you there. You helped me through a rough time.”
She nodded. “I was still so messed up cuz of my dad, but…” Sophie grinned impishly. “I’m not so sure you weren’t there to pick up older chicks. Couple of cougars there liked you just fine!”
He laughed. “No, definitely not. I was in no mood for that crap.”
“I did wonder about you, though, really,” Sophie said. “You came in that first day wearing that hoodie pulled up over your head, with sunglasses on and it was night time. Nobody could see your face. I thought you were gonna pull out a gun and rob us or take us hostage or something.”
“No way! You didn’t really think that!” he said, shocked.
“I did, but only for a little while. Before you told us about your mom.”
“I’d just broken up with Hanna and I was feeling really low…what a piece-a-work she was. I told you that she found out who I really was and expected me to buy her a car or something or she’d go to the tabloids with some story about me.”
“She never did anything, though, did she?”
“Not that I know of. After that I was paranoid that everybody would recognize me and start blackmailing me or worse! It was exactly what my dad warned me would happen, but I didn't believe him. I swore I’d never fall for another pretty, empty-headed girl ever again and certainly never tell her my secrets!”
“Not a dinner whore after your money, anyway. You did eventually tell me, so you musta trusted me. So far it’s worked,” Sophie said. “You haven’t complained about any girls like that lately.”
“That’s cuz…no other girls existed with you around,” he said.
“You mean I scared them away? I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to,” Sophie said, then she frowned. “But the other guys had no problem. They had plenty of groupies following them around.”
He shook his head. “I mean I didn’t care about anybody else because I cared only for you, Sophie,” he said slowly and distinctly.
“Wha…what are you saying?” she said.
Rance leaned forward.
When words aren’t enough, action is required.
©2017 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved