4, 10, 8, 6
“Are you sure you can handle this gig?” Bridget looks the girl over. “It’s a seminar. There will be a lot of high demand people there. There will be no breaks. This is harder then anything you’ve done for me to date. Are you sure you can handle this, Elyssa?” Bridget had a renowned reputation for using seminars to weed out the good from the bad. Elyssa is determined to meet her challenge. She is young, determined, confident in her abilities. She takes a deep breath and nods her affirmation.
The seminar is much bigger then Elyssa expected. She did her duties, though, making sure each glass in her section stayed full and plates didn’t clutter the tables. She stayed within eyesight of her tables, yet never hovered. She smiled though her feet were killing her. Four hours into the seminar, they take a break. Dinner will be served after the intermission, which means her legs will be doing more walking today then she has done since the 25 mile marathon she walked 5 years ago. She takes a deep sigh, a quick swipe at her hair to make sure it’s all still in place. She rushes to the kitchen.
The first set of platters are ready. She double checks the name plates to make sure she has the right food and heads to the table. She turns quickly with the tray on her hand, and falters. The tray is awkward and heavy, and she is unable to stop the platters from sliding off the tray and splattering the guests and table in front of her. Tears spring to her eyes as she begins to clean it up.
A second pair of hands reaches out and helps her gather the broken dishes. She looks up and directly into the most beautiful grey eyes she has ever seen. She turns back to the mess and her mind starts to waiver. How did I miss seeing those eyes earlier today? I could drown in those eyes all day long. Where does he come from? Why is he here? So lost in her thoughts was she that she didn’t even notice that she had cut herself. A long thin line of blood starting pouring out of her hand, adding new stains to the mess she was still trying to clean up.
“You should really get that looked at.” His voice is unexpectedly deep yet soft. As he touched her shoulders, she felt little tremors run through her veins. He helped her up and led her into the kitchen. He led her through the kitchen, to the back where there was a little office. The simple nameplate on the door said “Kitchen Manager”. He led her into the small office and sat her down on the small loveseat that took up the entire back wall of the office. He disappeared into a closet, and she heard him moving things around. He comes out with a first aid kit, and starts attending to her wound.
“I think you are going to need stitches for that one. It’s pretty deep.” his soft voice booms.
“I will get it checked out later. I have to get back out there. Thanks for your help.” She started to brush past him and he stopped her. She turned to ask him why he was stopping her and found herself looking into his eyes again. They just stood there, frozen, looking at each other. Is he going to kiss me? she thinks. He finally released her wrist and she left the room.
She returned to the seminar to find that the mess had been cleaned up and her tables had been served. She begins gathering the empty dishes when the fire alarm sounds. She sees smoke coming from the kitchen and hears the seminar director tell everyone to start working their way to the emergency exit closest to their table.
As the smoke gets thicker, people begin panicking. They are running for the doors, causing more panic as they go. Those who are getting left behind are beginning to cough as the smoke overtakes the room. Elyssa takes a look around and sees several people in distress. She is almost out the door, but she turns back. Every instinct in her body tells her she can’t leave those people in there.
“Go on! Get moving. I’ll take care of these people.” His voice is soothing and calm.
“No, I can help. My dad was a firefighter. We need to get these people out of here. There’s too many for one person.”
The fire breaks out of the kitchen. More panic ensues, and the overhead sprinklers finally kick on. Elyssa starts grabbing tablecloths and wrapping people in them, telling them to run for the exit. Slowly the room begins to clear of people as the fire continues. Finally, the smoke is too thick to see through and she can no longer find the exits. She covers herself with the wet tablecloth and swallows.
* * *
“So do you think you can handle this gig? There will be a lot of people there. This will be the hardest thing you’ve done to date. Are you sure you can handle it?” His grey eyes pierce through her skin. She looks down at the ring on her finger, her white dress, and all the family and friends gathered around.
“This? This is a piece of cake.” she whispers as the priest pronounces them husband and wife.