Vera answered the other line on the Call Waiting.
“Vera. It’s Cole.”
For the red-haired former librarian, his deep voice conjured up images of their shared kiss at the comic book convention on her first assignment as a Loan Some loaner.
“We need you down at headquarters,” he continued. “Uncle Bruce has a new assignment for you.”
“Anything you can tell me about over the phone?”
“Do you think I’d be calling you to come down to headquarters if I could do this over the phone?”
Sometimes, she kind of hated him.
Down at HQ, Vera entered the restaurant (the front for Loan Some) and ventured down the back steps to the basement area that was the Loan Some office. Cole greeted her at the front desk.
“Finally,” he chided.
“I left as soon as I hung up with you.”
His blond, petite girlfriend came out of the bathroom, in click-clocky heels that announced her entrance.
“Hi, Vera,” she said.
And that was it. They stood there, staring at each other like idiots. Vera and Jill had not had the best initial introduction, with Vera dressed as Chewbacca for an assignment and Jill mocking her with silent condescension. From what Vera gathered through overheard cell phone conversations, Jill was a physical trainer that enjoyed Katherine Heigl movies.
“Well,” said Cole. “I’d love to break up this conversation, but Uncle Bruce wants you in the conference room.”
Vera smiled at Jill and Cole, as some sort of awkward segue, and headed into the conference room, which had a huge mural on the walls that mimicked windows overlooking a fake sunny city. When Vera entered the room, Bruce was at the conference table, shuffling papers and folders.
“Vera,” he said. “Good to see you. Shut the door and sit down.”
Vera did as he directed.
“What’s going on, Bruce?”
“Big assignment. We want you to be in on it.”
Bruce handed her a folder.
“Have you heard of this guy?”
Vera opened the folder to see a photo of a man around her age, wearing a black suit. Attractive. Name: Owen Staley.
“No,” she said. “Should I know him?”
“Owen was on a matchmaking show for millionaires. However, they couldn’t find him a match. Somehow he learned about us, and wants to hire someone to take to a family wedding. For an entire week.”
“That’s a big payout,” she said, flipping through the folder for more info. He apparently made his money creating a tech company.
“So you wanna do it?”
“There’s one catch,” said Bruce, removing his eyeglasses from his face, so that they dangled around his neck from their chain.
Vera raised her eyebrows in anticipation.
“He’s a total asshole, pardon my French.”
“It’s why they couldn’t find him a date and probably why he’s still single. He’s extremely difficult. However, he’s willing to pay big.”
“How bad can he be?” Vera shrugged. “After all, I was a loaner for that guy who ate nothing but garlic.”
“That’s why we knew you’d be perfect for this assignment.”
As Vera was leaving the office, Cole followed her out.
“Where’s Jill?” she said. “Is there a ‘Real Housewives’ training course she had to be at?”
Cole smirked. “Given how little you know of pop culture, I appreciate that you had to work for that slam.”
They walked up the basement steps in unison.
“So I was thinking we could drive together to the wedding?” he said.
“Excuse me.” Vera stopped in her tracks. “You’re coming with me?”
“This guy’s brutal, Vera. We want everything going to plan, and nothing ending up in the tabloids.”