Taylor hesitated on the doorstep. The house in front of her was twice the size of hers, and at least five times more expensive. At least. She looked at the door, wondering if she was supposed to use the ornate doorknocker or if she was supposed to use the doorbell. She finally hit the button by the door and waited a few moments before hitting it again. She heard footsteps on the other side and then the door swung open. The woman on the other side was wearing a power suit, her blonde hair pulled back in a tight bun. Dark bags lined her eyes. “Yes?”
Taylor fought not to wince under her searching gaze. “Uh… I call about the ad you put in the paper earlier this week. The housekeeper…”
“Oh, yes. Herbert, right?”
“Hebert,” Taylor corrected. “Taylor Hebert.”
“Right, right, come in.” She stepped aside so Taylor could step in to the entryway. “Carol Dallon.” She offered Taylor a hand.
Taylor took it and gave it a brief shake. “You’re the Dallons as in…”
“New Wave? Yes, that would be us.”
Taylor smiled. “It’s really an honor to meet you.”
“So I’m told,” Brandish said dryly. “But if you don’t mind skipping the pleasantries, I have cases to go over tonight, so I don’t have much time.”
“Oh, sure.” Taylor blushed a little. Acting like a fangirl was probably a bad way to make a first impression.
“Thank you. I’m sorry if I’m a bit short, but I’ve had a hell of a week so far.” Carol gestured for her to follow. “Now, you’ll recall that the ad was for a housekeeper.”
Carol led her in to the kitchen and offered her a seat. Taylor could hear the television on the in the next room, but ignored it for the moment. “Yeah.”
Carol nodded and took a seat across from her. “With all of my responsibilities, I don’t really have time to keep the house clean anymore. Vicky’s been getting busier with her school work now that she’s a senior and Amy has been taking longer shifts at the hospital, so I can’t rely on them to take care of things while I’m away.”
“What about your husband?” Taylor asked.
She shrank as Carol glared at her for a moment. “My husband isn’t well,” she admitted. “You don’t need to worry about him, but he’s not really in the shape to reliably take care of the house alone. So I’m looking to hire some outside help.”
Taylor nodded. “Well, I’m kind of looking for an after school job. My dad’s been working longer hours…” He’d been working longer hours for ages now. “And I want to help make ends meet. I have plenty of practice keeping our house clean. I can vacuum, sweep, dust, and I know a little about cooking. I can also get references if you want…”
Carol raised a hand to silence her. “I see.” She was silent for a moment, leaving the only sound the distant drone of a news anchor. “Alright, well we haven’t had anyone else apply yet. Maybe people are too nervous about applying for a job with a superhero.”
Taylor smirked slightly. “I guess that would be a little intimidating…”
Carol just shrugged. “It’s inconvenient. Now, as for pay…”
“You’re still offering twenty-five dollars an hour, right?”
Carol nodded. “It’s my understanding that it’s an acceptable wage for a part time housekeeper.” She absently shrugged. “We’ll start by giving you trial run to see how you do. Now, how soon do you think you can get here after school tomorrow?”
Taylor quickly did a little math in her head. “Twenty minutes? Around three, definitely.”
Carol nodded. “Alright. Amy and Vicky won’t be home then, but Mark should be around. I’ll make sure that he’s up to letting you in, but I’ll have a key made for you by Saturday so you don’t have to worry about it.”
Taylor’s heart jumped. “Thank you. I won’t disappoint you.”
“I’ll have a list of chores for you to take care of waiting here on the table,” Carol continued, staying strictly on business. “Do as much as you can before we get home and then we can work out how many days you come in and what needs to be done.”
Taylor nodded quickly. “Thank you, I’ll be here.”
Taylor managed to get back to the house at five before three the next day. She rang the doorbell twice and waited. The door stayed stubbornly closed. She rang the bell again and then knocked three times. Finally, she heard slow footsteps inside and the door opened. Mark Dallon looked like he’d been asleep. His hair looked more like a bird’s nest, a messy brown mishmash, and his eyelids drooped slightly, like he was still waking up. “Uh… hello,” Taylor said.
“Hello,” Mark said, absently rubbing his eyes. “Can I help you?”
“I’m Taylor, the new housekeeper. Mrs. Dallon said she was going to tell you.”
Mark stared at her for a second. “Oh, right. She did mention that this morning. Sorry, I was resting in my room and I almost forgot.” He stepped aside to let her in. “Errr… do you need anything?”
“I might need to know where you keep cleaning stuff, but Mrs. Dallon said she’d leave instructions in the kitchen.”
Mark nodded slowly. “Alright. I’ll be up in my room if you need anything.” With that, he wandered off toward the stairs, leaving Taylor alone.
Taylor watched him go with a slightly bemused look. Maybe he was feeling sick today. She shrugged to herself and headed in to the kitchen to find the instructions. They were right in the middle of the table, along with a small cardboard box. She picked up the note and looked it over. The first half was an almost clinical list of chores. Dust the living room and dining room, vacuum the first floor, scrub the kitchen, etc. The second half was a hastily written paragraph.
Inside the box is your new uniform. I wanted you to have something appropriate to wear while you are working here. I’ll expect you to be wearing it when it get home with my daughters at six. Cleaning supplies are in the cupboard off the kitchen.
Taylor cocked her head curiously. A uniform? Really? She sighed. Maybe this was one of those peculiarities that rich people had. All their servants had to look fancy too. She set the note down and popped the box open.
For a few seconds, she just stared. A strangled squeak escaped her lips. “What.” She couldn’t help it as she stared in to the box. It was a maid’s outfit. Like, a stereotypical, black and white, maid outfit. “Is this a joke?” She pulled the dress from the box, too fascinated to just let it go. It looked short, extremely short, and a high frilly skirt and frills around the arms and collar. Beneath the dress, there was a frilly while apron, a matching headband, and matching stockings, along with a pair black heels that didn’t look too tall and a pair of thin white gloves. There was even a matching bra and panty set. “This is a joke.” She was about to put the outfit back in to the box when her eyes drifted back to the note. How much did Carol ‘expect’ her to wear the uniform? Enough to fire her if she refused? The money was nice. Really nice. Even if she only worked a couple of hours a week, she’d be making enough to save up a nest egg. She groaned and grabbed the box before running off to the bathroom. She stuffed her clothes in to her backpack and quickly starting pulling the maid outfit on. Considering they had no way to know her sizes, it fit alright. It was a bit loose on the chest and extremely short in the legs, and the stockings only made it up to her mid-thighs.
Taylor looked at herself in the mirror and couldn’t fight down a blush. Most of her skinny arms were exposed, and it was tough to walk in the heels. She didn’t even own her own heels. They were too much of a pain to waste time with. She adjusted the headband and forced herself to put on a half-smile. It didn’t look sincere, but it was good enough.
She sighed and got to work before she thought about it too hard to go through with it. It only took her a minute to find the cupboard and dig out everything she needed. She started kitchen, grabbing a bucket and sponge to wipe down all of the counters and some rubber gloves so she didn’t ruin the nice lacy ones that came with the outfit. It was easier to pretend she wasn’t wearing the outfit when she let herself get caught up in the work. Scrubbing the sink was mind numbing, but that also meant that she didn’t have to think about what would happen if someone saw her through a window.
She moved on to the living room and started dusting down the furniture and the shelves. She passed over a shelf loaded with basketball trophies running from about third grade until the end of middle school, as well as several medals and certificates for services to the city. Very pretty. She self-consciously pushed the skirt down when she stretched the reach the higher shelves, trying to keep herself from flashing the room. Even if there was no one there, it was the principle of the thing.
She finished up by vacuuming the floors to get up all the dust that drifted down to the floor while she was using the feather duster. She checked the clock and smiled when she realized that it was almost six. “So I can do the whole downstairs in about three hours…” She was rather pleased that she could do it in a reasonable amount of time. “Two or three days a week and I could do the whole house.”
She took a few minutes to going over the rooms to make sure that she hadn’t missed anything important, and was in the process of putting everything away in the cupboard when she heard the front door opening. “Hello?”
“Hi Miss Dallon,” Taylor called back. “I’m just getting cleaned up in the kitchen!”
She heard footsteps coming closer. “I see that you…” Carol trailed off as she walked in.
“Good afternoon,” Taylor said, bowing her head. Carol just looked at her incredulously. Taylor felt a bead of sweat on her forehead. Was she supposed to curtsy? Or call her ma’am? Something else? “Uh…”
“What are you wearing?!”
Taylor blushed. Wait what? “The uniform you set out for me!”
Carol’s eyes widened. “I didn’t…” She was interrupted by a sudden giggling behind her. Carol turned and glared absolute daggers at the girl standing behind her. She was pretty much exactly what you’d expect from the term ‘blonde bombshell’. Tall, long lustrous blonde hair, and curves to die for.
She smiled a dazzling style and Taylor immediately blushed. Holy shit, someone shouldn’t have the right to be that hot. “It was just a joke.”
“Vicky, don’t you dare use your aura on me!” Carol said.
“Aw, alright,” Vicky muttered and the feeling died back a bit. “I mean it though. I was just joking around. I didn’t think she’d actually wear it.” She gave Taylor a once over. “Not that I’m complaining…”
“It’s rude to do that to someone Vicky,” a quiet voice said from behind her. Taylor looked over Vicky’s shoulder and finally noticed the third new arrival, a mousy brunette in a white robe. She looked somewhere between tired and exasperated.
“Jeez, alright, alright,” Vicky said. She stepped past her mom and bowed her head dramatically. “Please, accept my apology for tricking you in to dressing like a maid.”
Taylor was blushing bright red, her hands holding the skirt down and trying to hide her legs. “It’s fine,” she grumbled.
“Man, I wasn’t trying to make you that embarrassed,” Vicky said. “It was just a joke.”
“Not a very funny one,” Taylor said dryly. “I’m going to change and go home.”
“Hey, there’s no need to get upset,” Vicky said. “You look cute like that!”
Taylor’s blush actually managed to get darker. “Not really…”
“You totally do,” Vicky insisted. “I mean, the size is kind of off, but that’s not your fault. I could totally make you look absolutely adorable if I got the top adjusted and got the skirt lengthened.” Her eyes lit up. “Or I could leave the skirt and get a garter belt to go with it! You have the legs for it and it would be so hot! I bet the guys would be knocking down your door if I did it right.”
Taylor backed up slowly as Vicky closed in, looking at her like a wolf at a sheep. “Uh… help?” she tried, looking over Vicky’s shoulder.
“Before you scare our new housekeeper away,” Carol interrupted. “I would like to work out her schedule and pay her for today.”
Vicky backed off a couple of steps. “Oh… sorry, I guess I got carried away.”
Taylor shot Carol a thankful look. “Right. Well, I got most of the downstairs done today. So I think three days a week from three ‘til six would be enough to do the whole house.”
Carol nodded. “Alright, so would Monday, Wednesday, Friday work for you?”
Taylor nodded quickly. “That’s perfect.”
“Great,” Vicky said. “Then you can hang out on Tuesdays and Thursdays, right?”
Taylor did her best not to do an impression of a fish. “Uh… what?”
“Awesome! I can totally get that resized by Monday. Oh, you should come with me on Saturday so I can get your sizes. That way I don’t have to worry about resizing everything.”
“Uh… what?” Taylor frowned. She was saying that a lot all of a sudden.
“Vicky,” Amy said with a sigh. “What have we said about dressing people up?”
“Uh… not to start planning it until they say yes?”
“And has she said yes?”
Vicky blushed a little. “Well no…”
Amy looked at Taylor. “Sorry about her. I always seem to have to remind her to keep herself under control.”
“Right.” Taylor was starting to wonder if this was Vicky’s way of being friendly rather than just trying to embarrass her. “I’m not really into clothes shopping.” Because that was clearly the best argument here.
“Not in to…” Vicky immediately turned to her mother. “Okay, she needs help, immediately!”
Taylor jumped. “I just don’t like shopping all that much. It’s not that big of a deal.”
“You just haven’t shopped properly,” Vicky insisted. “Okay, new plan. You’re coming out with me on Saturday. You can meet my supplier and then we can hit the mall.”
“Vicky calls the person who does all her costumes her supplier,” Amy added dryly. “She thinks it’s clever.”
Vicky swooned dramatically. “Amy! You wound me!”
Amy sighed and rolled her eyes. “Just don’t overload the new girl.”
Taylor looked between the two. “Uh… I’ll just… go get changed and go.”
“Be here at one on Saturday!” Vicky called out as Taylor retreated to the bathroom to change. “We’ll have a blast!”