EMMA had been honest—had even admitted during her telephone interview that she was attending night school on a Wednesday night and studying art and that in a couple of years she was hoping to pursue it full-time.
Everything had gone really well, until the second Evelyn had walked out to greet Emma—and Emma truly didn’t understand why.
She’d prepared so carefully for the interview. Reading everything she could get her hands on about D’Amato Financiers—about their spectacular rise, even in gloomy times. Luca D’Amato had a no-nonsense attitude—there was no secret formula to his success, she had read in a rare interview he had given—just sound decisions and fiscal transparency and the refusal to be swayed by hype. Yes, she’d read up on him and then gone through her favourite glossy magazines and followed every last piece of advice in preparation for this afternoon.
Emma had scoured the second-hand shops and found a stunning—if just a touch tight for her well-rounded figure—pale lilac linen designer suit, had had her thick brown ringlets blowdried straight and smoothed up into a smart French roll, and, horribly broke, she had, on the afternoon of her interview, as one magazine had cheek-ily advised, gone to the make-up counter at a department store and pretended that she was a bride-to-be and trying out looks for her wedding day.
Her brothers had always teased her about her obsession with magazines and her father had moaned about how many she had bought, but they had been her life-line. Growing up without a mother, living in a rough-and-tumble house that the little girls she’d invited to come over and play had never returned to, Emma had lived her childhood and teenage years reading the glossies for advice, about friends and bullying and boys. It was the magazines that had taught her about deodorant and kisses and bras. The magazines she had turned to when at twelve she had been teased for having hairy legs. And though her devotion to them had waned somewhat, at the ripe age of twenty-four it had been the magazines she had immediately turned to for make-up and grooming tips to land her dream job.
She looked fantastic, just the image she had been hoping to achieve—smart, sassy, groomed—exactly the right look for a modern working girl in the city.
Evelyn clearly didn’t agree.
Her interviewer was dressed in a stern grey suit, with black flat shoes. Her fine blonde hair was cut into a neat, practical bob and she wore just a reluctant sliver of coral lipstick. The antithesis, in fact, of the look Emma had been trying to achieve!
‘And Mr D’Amato would also prefer someone who speaks Japanese…’ Evelyn continued.
‘It didn’t say that in the advertisement,’ Emma pointed out. ‘And you didn’t mention it when we spoke on the telephone.’
‘Luca—I mean Mr D’Amato—does not like to put too many specifications in the advertisements for one reason, and I rather agree…’ she gave a small sniff ‘…that when the right person appears, we know.’
Well, there wasn’t much Emma could say to that— clearly at first glance it had been decided that she wasn’t the right person for the job.
Now, even though it had been an impossible dream, now that she had glimpsed it, Emma wanted it.
The salary was to die for—her family home, despite months on the market, hadn’t sold and the nursing-home fees were piling up. Evelyn had explained during their initial telephone interview that Luca’s staff burnt out quickly. He was a demanding boss, expecting complete devotion, and that this job and the travel would literally overtake her life, but that suited Emma just fine.
One year working hard and she could meet the nursing-home fees. Surely in that time the house would sell and pay off the backlog of debt? One year, burning herself out, and she would finally be free—free to pursue her dreams, free to live the life that had so far been denied her.
And now that glimmer of hope was rapidly being taken away. ‘Now, if you’ll excuse me…’ Evelyn gave a thin attempt at a smile ‘…I have an important phone call to make.’
Well, at least Evelyn hadn’t kept her guessing, at least she wouldn’t be checking her phone every five minutes, or dashing to get the mail.
It couldn’t have been made any clearer—she wasn’t wanted.
‘Well, thank you for seeing me…’ She should just stand and go, shake Evelyn’s hand and leave, except, inexplicably, she was dragging it out and for some stupid, stupid reason tears were threatening as yet another door closed on her push for a better future. ‘Thank you for your time.’
It was her horoscope’s fault, Emma told herself as Evelyn scribbled a note on her carefully prepared CV.