I put my two suitcases down before ringing the doorbell of a huge house in one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods, the forest all around separating it from the other houses. Too late to turn back, someone's already opening the front door. I can't help but get a sense that I'm not significant enough to be here when I see how well-dressed the young woman looks. Her dark eyes stares and then she smiles, "Hi, I'm Phyllis Yates. You must be Guinevere Marshall the au pair." She sees my two suitcases and then demands someone I can't see yet, "Quentin, please take her suitcases to the blue bedroom." He looks like a bodyguard when I see him, very well dressed with the latest coolest sunglasses on. I don't miss the ring on one of his fingers. I recognise the logo that was on the letter that told me I got the job, red background with a bold black design of a huge eagle and some language below that I can't understand. It looks like it's a family symbol.
Phyllis Yates holds out her hand to me as if to shake mine so I do. Her hand is so cold. Justifying her cold hand, "I get cold easily."
Phyllis signals for me to walk in. I look around. I've never seen a house like this from the inside. We're standing in the lobby; the huge flight of stairs can't be missed.
Phyllis, "You're welcome to look around."
I guess I should meet the child I'll be looking after? "Where's the child I should be looking after?"
Smiling she says, "Me."
I'm stunned, "I'm sorry. This must be a mistake. You're my age and it doesn't look as if you need someone to look after you." Did I just waste my time? The bus ride was horrible and long. My foster parents don't even know where I am. As far as they know I'm somewhere on vacation with a neighbourhood friend. We had a fall out so I spitefully didn't tell them the truth.
"No mistake." Laughter is coming from another room, "You're not the only au pair here."
"I thought I already have the job."
Excitably she says, "You all do, isn't that great."
I don't know if I'm being played.
She sees that I'm uncomfortable, "I'm wealthy and bored. Think of it as a paid vacation or something. No child to look after; this huge house, food and parties." She looks at my clothes for the very first time, "You always dress in denim?"
I look at my denim and sneakers; it's never bothered anybody else before. But then I've never met anyone like Phyllis before. She looks as if she's ready for the runways of Paris or New York.
Three girls wearing two piece swimsuits come into the room; two blonde and one with long black hair. Phyllis introduces us all, "Everyone, this is Guinevere. This is Amy, Kristen and Nadine. Amy is the one with the longest blond hair, Kristen has got short blond hair and Nadine is the one with long black hair." So we're all here to pretend to be friends for the next two weeks? I'm regretting this already. I look around. No pictures anywhere, and then my eyes get stuck on a trunk. It's got the same symbol as the ring. There are two swords hanging against the wall the trunk is standing against.
Kristen, "I don't mind these two weeks. It gives me time away from my bossy parents. I'm starting college in a few weeks."
Amy, "I'm also going to college."
Nadine looks at me, "Me too. And you?"
"I haven't figured out what I want to do with my life yet." I really haven't. I could help in step father's business behind the counter. He's got a pawn shop not far from our home. Or I could go to college like everyone. I used to think it's enough. But since a week ago I keep on feeling that's not what I'm supposed to do.
Phyllis talks to Quentin who's just came through a door, "Please take her to the blue room."
I follow Quentin. We walk the stairs, three flights of them, how glad I'm now that I'm fit. And he says once were walking down a hall, "This is Phyllis' room." We walk on, "this is Amy's." Passing the next closed door, "Kirsten's" And then another door, "Nadine's." The next door, "This is your room." He opens the door. I t's a comfortable room. But there's no blue, "How come it's called the blue room?"
"Phyllis has got her own personal reasons on how her colour coding works for the bedrooms. Her brother just lets her be." It's got a huge queen size bed, dresser, chair at the window and two huge closets. A flat screen television is against the one wall. Quentin has opened a door, "this is your bathroom." I look; it looks comfortable but not too big. It has a shower, a bath, dresser and a mirror.
Quentin, "Is there anything you need before I go?"
He's almost out of the door when I say, "Wait. Everyone around here is on first name basis?"
"Phyllis prefers it. It's different with her brother, Gordon. He prefers us calling him Mr Yates. He should be back in a few days. So please call him Mr Yates if you see him. This is his house. Phyllis has one oversees. Just walk back down the hall, down the steps. Turn left,, not right otherwise you'll end up in the lobby, walk through the kitchen. The door will take you outside. You just follow the path and it'll lead you to the pool area."
He leaves me alone. This Mr Yates really sounds like a snob. I guess it's easy being one if you own a house like this.
I haven't yet looked through the window so I walk towards it. All I see is forests. I start to unpack.
There's a knock on my bedroom door late in the afternoon. I get up from the bed where I was sitting looking at a magazine to open the door. Nadine looks very much stoned, "Phyllis has invited a few of her friends over."
No surprise to me, I could hear the loud music for half an hour now that's why I closed the bedroom window that was open. Just to get rid of her I say, "I'll be there in a few minutes to check it out."
Kristen's calling Nadine from the hall so she walks out giving me the chance to close the door and lock it again. I wouldn't want some drunken guest just walking in.