Allie Mitchell was having a typical Monday. Too bad that it was actually a Thursday, she thought as she looked down at the tear in her jacket. She had torn it on a piece of metal in the parking garage that morning, and it had given before she had a chance to notice that the fabric was caught. Good thing it was on a side seam, she thought. Barely noticeable to anyone but her. But it just seemed to top off everything else that was going wrong that day. She had started the day with a cold shower, noting that she should call the plumber about the hot water heater before her friend Anna got back from a business trip this weekend. She then dropped her hideous pancake makeup on the bathroom floor and made a huge mess on the tile. While rushing around the kitchen, she had spilled coffee all over her sleeve, forcing a quick change of her outfit. And then her car's maintenance light came on when she started it that morning. All in all, not a good start to the day.
So when she received her boss' summons to his office as soon as she got in that morning, she assumed that it would be more bad news. Stowing her lunch in the small refrigerator in the company break room, she slipped into the ladies' room to fix her jacket with a safety pin, and to check that her makeup was intact.
She looked terrible, she thought as she gazed at her reflection in the mirror. But that was intentional. She had gotten this job because her boss had wanted a matronly-looking woman who had no physical appeal whatsoever.
When Allie had heard about the job from a good friend of hers in HR, she had jumped at the opportunity. But her friend had warned her that it would be a hard position for her to get.
"Why? I'm completely qualified, and I would give away all of my worldly riches for a chance to work for Sean Greyson. He's a legend in the business world."
"Your worldly riches wouldn't mean much to the man," Debra had laughed. "A used Honda and a small apartment with a few antiques is probably pocket change to him. But here's the thing...."
Debra went on to explain that Sean Greyson's three previous secretaries, each with impeccable credentials, had all taken the position in hopes that they could seduce their rich, handsome, and successful boss into a relationship. Mr. Greyson was tired of the game. He just wanted someone to do the work, do it well, and leave him the hell alone.
"So how will he weed out candidates? Do I need to wear a fake wedding band or something?"
"No, one of his previous secretaries was married. Didn't make much of a difference to her. I guess she was prepared to trade up. I think your best bet is to downplay your physical attributes, and to play up your strengths."
"Wear nothing sexy or revealing to the interview. Pull your hair back into a bun or a pony tail. No makeup, or maybe something that actually looks bad on you. I can get you in the door to see him, Allie, but you're going to need to sell him on who you are. So be studious, serious... quiet. You're one of the most kind-hearted people I know, but just don't let him see the social side of you until later. Let him think he's hiring a repressed librarian."
So Allie had gone to her interview in an ill-fitting suit with a blouse in a color that didn't suit her, and had done what she could with some old stage makeup that a friend had given her. She had been quiet and serious, and kept her personality hidden. And it had landed her the job. But unfortunately, one year later, she was still trapped in the old and poorly fitted suits, and wearing ugly makeup. At times, she considered slowly phasing out the old clothes and starting to wear outfits that fit her better, both in size and personality, but she knew that her boss trusted her and was happy with her work, and she really saw no reason to rock the boat. The one time she did her hair differently, he had looked at her long and hard, and she had panicked. The next day, it was back in a neat bun.
With one last look in the mirror, Allie left the ladies room, went back to her desk to pick up her notebook and appointment book, and headed toward Mr. Greyson's office. The door opened just as she reached it, and Sean Greyson stood in the doorway to usher her in. Tall, with an impressive air of authority about him, he intimidated Allie without even trying. It didn't help that he was so handsome, she thought. His dark hair was turning grey around the temples, but that only seemed to add to his distinguished appearance. His eyes were a unique shade of green that seemed to change with his mood. Right now, he was completely focused on business.
"Come on in, Allie," he said, as he turned back toward his desk and motioned to one of the chairs in front of it. "Sit down, and let's get through the planning for the Montreal trip. Did you book everything?" he asked, sitting back down behind the desk and pulling his planning book toward him.