The cool morning breeze wafted into the room, the parted curtains dancing along to it while the soft streaks of light shined in and reflected off of the surface of the mirror I was standing before. I was already late yet I took a minute or two to evaluate my outfit.
Elegant appearances were very important when it came to making first impressions but because of the power outage the previous night, my digital alarm clock had been reset and I found myself waking up 45-minutes later than scheduled.
After a quick shower, the only outfit that came to mind while I was in a rush was a white jumpsuit which I paired up with a black belt around my waist to assentuate my figure. It wasn't much but it was presentable. I put on a pair of heels and picked up my purse. My phone was placed on my bed and I anticipated a call that would not come through. Tatum Levi, my personal driver, lived only five minutes away from my apartment. It was safe to assume that his block had suffered the same as mine did and that he had woken up late as well.
I pursed my lip and tapped my foot against the wooden floor, creating a rhythm that only worsened my anxiety. I checked over and over again to make sure that not a single strand of my black hair was sticking out in the wrong places. I had just cut it to mid-back length since it was beginning to get in my way. Maintaining long hair was too much for me considering my already busy schedule. I had three other clients to meet later today and I was certain I would be late for the first one which would throw off my schedule slightly.
Each client had to get the time they paid for. I would hate for the time to move into another client's as well and keep them waiting. I glanced down at my phone again. Nothing. Not a message or a call. I finally huffed and picked it up to put through the fourth call in the last ten minutes. But as I was dialing the numbers, the knock on the front door caught my attention. I heaved a heavy sigh and tossed the phone into my purse.
"...about time, Tatum," I muttered under my breath as walked out of my bedroom and closed the door behind me. I hurried to the door as fast as I could, making sure that I wouldn't trip and opened the door wide enough to reveal a man in a white shirt and brown shorts standing before me with a small box in his hand. That's right, it was the mailman, not Tatum. I furrowed my eyebrows and peered over his shoulder. We were about the same height but the heels enabled me to see behind him from above his shoulders. The black SUV Tatum drove was nowhere in sight.
"Special package for you..." the mailman said, reaching his hand out for me to take the box. I didn't, and looked down at it in mild confusion. I wasn't expecting a package nor did I order anything online in the last two months that could have arrived late.
"Who's it from?" I asked and he shrugged his shoulders. He turned the box over for me to see all the sides and on one side there was only a small piece of paper pasted on it. There was no brand name on the box and, upon closer inspection, there was no name or a return address on the paper. Just the address where the package was supposed to be delivered to.
"I'm afraid it doesn't say," he said, his arm still outstretched. I wasn't willing to take the box as it seemed very suspicious but I reluctantly reached out my free hand and took it from his hand. The moment I did so, he pulled out a clipboard that had been holstered between his belt and shirt behind him. I took the pen he gave me that he took out of his pocket, signed my name on the line at the bottom then returned it to him.
He didn't waste another second when he received the pen and clipboard and turned to walk away from the door. I stared down at the package while he disappeared out of sight. I had never received suspicious packages before and I wasn't certain if it was safe to open it. The box didn't seem heavy at all and when I shook it about, the item inside moved about freely. It was either a small object or a very light one.
"Bea... Beatrice..." I was so engrossed in checking out the box that I didn't notice Tatum's car come to a halt in front of the gate of the complex. I raised my head up to look at him and sighed.
"You're late," I called out to him.
"Stating the obvious, are we?" And he responded.
I pulled out the keys to the door out of my pocket and locked the door. I had in mind to leave the package behind but I wanted to see what was inside. Besides, I needed a second person's advice to see if it was safe to open it or not. After tucking the keys safely in my purse, I walked down the short pathway and entered the car in the backseat.
"There was a power outage last night. I don't know what happened but I got here as fast-"
"Yes, there was an outage here, too. I woke up late, too, actually," I interrupted him as he started the car and drove out of the sideway.
I lived in Birmingham in a small building complex. My home was on the first floor of a 10 story building. An indoor staircase was built on the side of the building so that the residents above me could be able to access their homes. My home had two bedrooms, two bathrooms, one kitchen and extra space which I turned into an office joined by the living room. It wasn't much but for a 20 year old starting out her life on her own, that was a lot and I was grateful for it.
"Sorry, but we're going to be about five minutes late. There's heavy traffic up ahead according to the news and I'll try to speed through as fast as possible," and by that he meant it would be near impossible to avoid getting stuck between the many cars. I had learned Tatum's speech patterns already in one week I had known him.
He was a young man, 25 years old and still in college studying medicine. I didn't know what exactly his major was since I had just met him. He was a nice guy with shoulder length auburn hair which did not suit him. I always thought he would look better with shorter hair ever since I met him but he was the stubborn kind. He was fairly good looking and was hardly aware of it, and that made many women around him angry as he was ignorant to their flirtatious ways.
That's the best that I could do to explain Tatum's personality. As I said, I had met him only a week ago but I was certain I would learn more about him with time. Going back to the road, Tatum knew that I hated the notion of being late so he always tried to ease my anxiety by lying about certain road conditions. Earlier that week, it had begun to rain the previous night before I would have to leave early in the morning and he mentioned that the meteorologist said it would have cleared up in the morning.
I believed him only to find out that he had actually told a white lie. It wasn't a bad thing. I was somewhat of a perfectionist and that made me anxious about many things. But that wasn't the only thing that made me feel that way. I still had the box in my hand, rubbing the tip of my finger against one of its corners. It didn't take long for Tatum to notice through the rearview mirror that I was holding tightly onto the box.
"What do you have there?" He asked as he turned at a corner and entered a different street that was riddled by many cars that were driving ever so slowly. I had anticipated that because from around the corner, I could already hear the loud honking of cars.
"A box, I guess. It doesn't say who it's from," I replied. Tatum narrowed his eyes.
"Did someone deliver it to you?" He asked and I nodded. There was a red light about seven cars ahead so he stopped the car behind the one before us and turned in his seat.
"Give it to me," he said and I gave him the box without any second thoughts. To Tatum, I was like a little girl who needed a driving force every once in a while. If I was too nervous to act, he would either lie to get me to do something or do it himself if it was possible. Like right now, he took the box from me and ripped it open from one of the edges. I peered into the front seat to see a bundle of white paper wrapped into a ball. He tossed the box onto the passenger seat and proceeded to unwrap the paper.
To both out surprise, in the center was a ring; not just an ordinary ring, but a diamond incrested one.
"What is this?" Tatum asked as he took the ring in his fingers and raised his hand up for the sunlight to shine through the diamonds.
"Bea... this is a real diamond ring," Tatum said in a soft voice. He was amazed by what he was holding in his hand while I was very confused. I was still staring up at him when he placed it in my hand then faced forward to drive because the lights had turned green.
The car started moving so suddenly that I dropped the ring onto to the floor because I wasn't holding it with care. I cursed under my breath and bent down to pick it up.
"What do you mean it's real?" I asked, looking at it resting in my palm. It was definitely very beautiful but why was something so precious addressed to me?
"I mean that that is... I'd say... about 15 carats... That's a 15 carat diamond ring, Bea," Tatum said with what I presumed was excitement in his voice. I wasnt excited about the ring at all. There must have been some mistake. Perhaps it was addressed to one of the residents who lived above me. The staircase to the upper floors was built indoors on the side and the mailman must have not seen it. I explained my theory to Tatum who immediately shook his head.
He reached over with one hand and took the torn box before throwing it back at me. It was one of those times when I wondered if it was better for me to just sit in the front. I caught the box while making sure that the ring would not fall out of my hand again.
"Look at the label closely," Tatum suggested and I did. There was no mistake to be seen anywhere.
'496 Furton Street'.
'First Floor, Crescent Apartments'.
"You've got yourself an admirer. Isn't that something to be excited about?" I heard Tatum ask as I read through the label a second time. The package, the ring, was definitely intended for me; not a previous residence of the first floor, but me because my first and last names were clearly typed down on the label.
"I find that very creepy and not exciting at all," I said, putting down the box on the seat beside me. I looked down at the ring again. I did not like the notion of someone out there possibly stalking me and sending me random gifts but even I had to admit that the ring was quite aesthetically exquisite. I had never held something of such high value in my hand before. It was difficult to think that such a small item could be so valuable.
"Do you reckon I should keep it?" I asked.
"It is a gift. What else would you do with it?" Tatum asked. I rubbed the large stone with one of my thumbs.
"I could hand it in to the police. They could figure out whom it came from," I stated. Tatum wanted me to keep the ring, I could tell from a single glance at his brown eyes through the rearview mirror. But keeping the ring was not exactly a good idea. It could have been stolen or perhaps it was accidentally shipped.
"We'll have to do that later though. You've got to meet a client right now," he said and I nodded. I opened my purse and carefully placed the ring in a small open space inside, but not before glancing down at it again to admire it one more time.
"Do you know anything about this client?" Tatum asked and I shook my head with a sigh.
"Only that he's a businessman. A bachelor who's finally ready to settle down," I answered. Tatum pulled out his phone from his pocket with one hand.
"What's his name? I'll look him up for you since you don't know how to use the internet," Tatum suggested with a laugh. I scoffed and turned my head to face the window. Indeed, I didn't know how to utilize the internet. I was a country girl until two weeks ago when I moved into the city. The first ever cellphone I had bought was on the day after I moved into my new apartment.
"I'm still learning but whatever... Robin Dior," I said. Tatum waited until the next red light before he unlocked his phone and started looking up the name. Only a second after clicking enter, the results appeared and I saw his eyes widen through the mirror.
"Robin Ambrose Dior. What a weird combination," I heard him mutter.
"That's right," and I muttered in return, having only heard the first part.
"I didn't realize you were already famous enough for clientele of such high standing to contact you," Tatum commented. It was definitely a compliment but I saw it as something else. I thought the same, too, because it had only been a week since I entered the business. I leaned forward and peered over his seat to what he was reading. I saw too many articles with his name and immediately lost interest at the prospect of reading through all of it, so I sat back in my seat.
"Just summarize it for me, please," I said in a bored tone and he began to read through some previews of the articles. I waited patiently until he put down his phone to continued driving.
"Well... 28 years old but already owns his own company. Made quite a hefty sum in the previous year and there's nothing but good words about him. I think these articles are actually praising him," he explained. That was the simplest explanation he could give me but it gave me more than enough information. It made sense that a person of that status would contact someone like me. Finding love for wealthy people was very difficult when they were also famous. There were a lot of women who were interested only in his money.
"He should make for an interesting client... can you hurry up a bit? I want some coffee to wake me up before he arrives," I said. Tatum obliged and exited the road with the heavy traffic for a shortcut. I was meeting the client at a cafe. It wasn't an unusual scene but I didn't like the idea of taking business to my home even though there was a small office there. It was reasons like that that led to the package arriving at my doorstep, though I don't know whom it could have been because I hadn't invited anyone to my home other than Tatum.
We had had dinner together for two nights and there were no plans of stopping. We were both young and he couldn't cook. As a country girl, I grew up cooking so I didn't mind having him join me for dinner. Besides, it was quite lonely at the apartment. I hadn't made any friends yet and Tatum's company kept me from getting depressed about living alone.
"You don't seem interested right now. He's the richest client you've had so far, isn't he?" Tatum asked when he stopped on the side of the street before the chic cafe where I was supposed to meet Robin. I really wasn't excited at all. The story had been the same so far and I doubted it would be any different anytime soon. The client approached me with a question which I would then answer and they would leave either upset, depressed or even happy on one occasion. It made my job very boring but there wasn't much I could do to change it.
"I don't care about the money. Rich or not, they're all the same. They have the same problems which makes them seem more human than you think," I said as I opened the car door and took the purse in my other hand. Tatum would take the car around the building to find a parking spot where he would wait for me until I was done. Not that he needed to; he had the option of waiting inside the cafe or stopping by some other place but he wanted to be close enough that I wouldn't be nervous when he wasn't around while not being too close.
I wasn't used to the city or the new lifestyle. I couldn't navigate my way around it nor did I know where what was. He gave me my phone before I closed the door and I walked onto the sidewalk while he drove away.
It was still early in the morning and there weren't that many people seated. The ones that did come inside the shop were there to order something on the go, perhaps a donut with a medium sized latte or a coffee to wake them up like the one I ordered. I picked what I thought was the best spot; an area at the back of the large room secluded from the rest where I was able to gaze past the windows at the streets while I waited. It ensured that nobody would interrupt us either as the work I did was a bit personal and public discussions weren't exactly private.
I had the purse placed down on the table and my phone was out. I constantly tapped the screen every minute or so to see what time it was and each time I did so, I muttered under my breath for myself to calm down. There had been two instances in the past week that made me so anxious to meet my clients and that was when they reacted too emotionally and negatively towards me. I told them what they consulted me to say and I ended up getting yelled at. Well, one of them was a married man but I simply gave him advice which he would then decide to follow or not.
I was brought to tears but I was glad that Tatum was around to comfort me. I had no skills when it came to communicating with people so it did not come as a surprise when Tatum told me that I was too nonchalant or insensitive when I was talking to my clients. I had a long talk with him and we went through a few magazines and websites explaining how to interact with people. Today was the day I would have to test out the many theories I had learned.