Caroline’s Point Of View
An angry voice rang around the whole studio and I froze with my hand still on the door knob of the half open door.
“WHY CAN’T I GET ONE BLOODY DECENT GAL THAT CAN MOVE TO THE FUCKING BEAT HERE!?”
Something crashed in my line of sight, coming from the left side of the studio that I had yet to see. A lamp. An expensive crystal lamp, now shattered into a thousand small pieces. What was something like that even doing in a place like this?
“Planning on coming inside anytime soon?” drawled a statuesque blond, standing near the door, a little to my right.
I nodded stupidly and slipped in, as inconspicuously as possible, and shut the door behind me.
“Bekah! Get the floor cleaned.”
I was still looking at the blonde when she rolled her eyes at the order and moved her butt off the wall with a sigh. Apparently, this was the Bekah the angry man was ordering about. And she was not too happy about being given the cleaning chore.
“Oh yes by all means move at a glacial pace! I am going to live forever!” came the angry exasperated voice again from my left. I gulped and looked over. There was a group of people, dancers by the looks of them, standing in my way, blocking the source of the angry voice. I craned my neck and saw dark gold curls shining in the bright lights, a portion of a shoulder, clad in black and some kind of black bead and metal necklaces peeking through the collar.
“Take a break till the glass is cleaned up. I don’t want more emergency room visits.”
The crowd around him started to disperse. When I had a clear shot, his back was turned towards me. Another scared boy stood in front of him, waiting, as he went through a clipboard.
He wore a close fitted black silk shirt, slightly translucent in the bright lights over sinfully fitted dark trousers. He must be around a six feet tall. Had a lithe frame, a perfect dancer’s body. Despite the rudeness spewing off his mouth, I really wanted to look at his face.
So I was still gawking at his back when someone cleared their throat behind me and huffed in annoyance.
“A little help here? If you’re not too busy?”
I turned back, to see Bekah on her knees with a dustpan and a completely useless looking swishy duster in her hands, trying to move the heavy glass shards into the dustpan. Clearly, this one was not used to menial work like cleaning up your own mess.
I quickly went over and knelt next to her.
“That is too light to pick up all of the glass.” I pointed to her french-maid prop like duster, earning me a scowl from her. “Do you have a broom or something?”
Still scowling, she got on her feet and gestured for me to follow. She led me to a door in the far corner of the studio. There was a storeroom behind the door, stocking electronic equipment, a few light chairs, cleaning supplies and other odds and ends. There was a sturdy broom resting by a huge trashcan. I picked it up and went back to the studio room. Bekah followed.
I efficiently swept all the shards together and knelt again to sweep the heap into the dustpan. Just when I stood up with the shards in one hand and the broom in the other, I had the weird feeling of someone staring at my backside. Before I could turn around and confirm, THE voice, the one I was learning to dislike, came up from behind me, a bit too close for comfort, making me jump and drop the glass on the floor again.
“Who the hell is this?”
“I am just…” I turned with my angry retort hot on the tip of my tongue. The man was out of his mind if he thought he could bully me around. I wasn’t one of his minions. I just came for an interview. I was helping cleaning up his mess out of the goodness of my heart. I didn’t deserve to be sneered at.
However, my retort promptly died on my lips.
That’s what I saw first. His lips. Red, much too dark for a man not wearing lipstick, and pouty and kissable and…My eyes trailed up. Strong straight nose. Glittering blue green eyes. Eyes, that weren’t even on me to trap me. He was saying something to Bekah. She must have said something he didn’t like because he huffed, turned on his heal and sauntered off.
Bekah clicked her fingers in my face to bring me out of my stupid haze. I hurriedly turned to face her.
“You dropped the glass again.”
“Umm sorry. I’ll…”
“Never mind. I got it!” she sighed, “Who are you again?”
She took the broom from me and started sweeping the glass.
“My name is Caroline Forbes. I have an appointment with Rebekah Mikaelson. I’m here to interview for the assistant position you have?”
“Oh yes. We talked on the phone. I’m Rebekah Mikaelson. Would you mind waiting a bit? We are awfully busy right now.” she gestured towards a set of benches along the wall towards my right. “I am sorry for the delay.” she added as an afterthought, not looking or sounding sorry at all.
I needed this job. It was the only opening that matched my skill set. So even if I didn’t much like Rebekah Mikaelson’s social etiquette and wanted to walk out, I pulled on my big girl panties, smiled politely and went to sit on the bench. I could wait if it meant I could make next month’s rent on time.
The shiny wooden floor was all cleaned up and the group on the dance floor started dispersing, making room on the main floor.
Suddenly, the bright lights dimmed, leaving only some kind of spotlighting in the middle of the floor. A song started playing, echoing around the huge room, drowning all other sounds, ‘Mi Confession by Gotan Project’, one of the most sensual Spanish music around.
HE stepped in the middle of the lighted area, posture taught, chin up, eyes serious, lips curled in a sexy smirk, and put out his hand. A tall brunette stepped out from the group of other dancers, and joined him for the dance. They started with the basic salsa step, one step forward, one back, then two steps forward, two back. He said something to the girl and she straightened her neck, making her chin parallel to the floor. He put a hand on her waist, took a step back and twirled her around once, paused to look in her eyes and turned her again twice, and held out his hand to pause her again.
There was something about the way he moved. Each and every movement precisely accurate, performed with easy sensuality.
The girl stumbled at the second pause and stepped on his foot. He closed his eyes, his jaw tight, and twirled two fingers in the air. The song stopped and started from the beginning. They started dancing again.
She was good too. I could tell. But her partner dominated the dance and the stage without even breaking sweat.
To her credit, the girl managed to dance for a minute under his chilly glare before loosing foothold again.
“STOP! Turn off the music” he yelled, making me jump in my bones, “Start from the beginning Haley.”
“With.. without the music?” she stammered.
“Yes without the music. Come here.” she stepped into his arms as they took the starting stance again, “One foot forward, one back, then two forward, two back.” He turned her, “Look at me! Look before the second turn…” she turned twice, managing to control her forward momentum enough to pause between her turns as he guided her expertly through the movements, ” now step, one forward, one back, turn…Good. Now lift…”
She missed her footing, falling into him. He caught hold of her upper arms and held her away, took a few steps back and pinched his nose.
Then walked over to her again, telling her to start over.
“He’s usually in a better mood than this.” Rebekah whispered, coming to sit with me, “His lead dancer sustained a serious injury and he is trying to find a replacement.”
My eyes were still transfixed on the couple dancing in the spotlight. To be honest, my eyes were transfixed on him. The girl missed grabbing his hand during another lift and lost her balance. Again.
“I see the search is not going too well.” I whispered back, “Is it for a special sequence?”
“The spring recital. Broadway. We are doing an interpretation of the classic movie Dirty Dancing.”
My eyebrows went up. “Broadway as in, in NYC?”
Rebekah shrugged her shoulders as if it was no big deal.
And now HE was yelling. Again.
“If only Nik was not such an arse to them! He’s been at it for three hours without rest. The dancers wouldn’t be half bad if they weren’t all cowering under his temper tantrums. You’ll have your hands full if you get the job.”
Wait just a minute! Was she saying what I thought she was saying?
“My hands full for the spring show you mean?”
“Oh no honey! The show would turn out to be fine. Nik is the best at what he does. We’ve been doing this thing for years. Our team is built for this kind of heavy lifting.” she gave me a saccharine smile, “I meant the job itself. The last girl, Nik’s personal assistant, lasted a week before running home one evening, crying and whatnot! The one before that, lasted three days. Don’t get me started about the one who was sitting in this very bench when Tatiana broke her ankle.”
“You mean…I mean, the assistant job…It’s not for you?”
“Oh no. Not me. It’s for Nik. If you get the job.” she smiled, again the overtly fake saccharine smile, as if she was already envisioning me running from here, crying and whatnot.
I gulped. “Of course.” I said and gave her a weak smile in return.
I turned to look at him again.
So there was a name that went with the angry yelling voice.
For now, the Haley girl was doing fine. He dipped her body and she folded under his expert hands. Those hands that ran across her collarbones and grasped her shoulders intimately to turn her and pull her back flush against his front. Haley stood on one tip toe, her other leg curled around his thigh and tilted her face to look at him, at his face, tangling one hand in his hair, as he brought his lips inches from her exposed neck.
I didn’t want to think why I suddenly felt hot all over.
He didn’t quite touch his lips to her skin. But Haley closed her eyes for a second as if they were doing the horizontal version of the dance. When she opened her eyes to look at him, I couldn’t help but search his face for his answering look.
He turned right then, breaking the moment and lifted the lithe girl in one arm to finish the move. They stopped and parted from their half embrace.
And I started breathing again.
“Take a break love. And do your cool down. We’ll continue tomorrow.” he said, not quite looking at Haley. She however, couldn’t tear her eyes off him.
He went towards the single stool in front of the floor to ceiling mirrored wall and stood there giving me quite a view in the mirror. He picked up a water bottle and swallowed a sip.
I could tell that this job, if I got it, was going to bring me nothing but trouble. Because I knew he drank exactly three mouthfuls of water and the third one sat in his mouth for a bit before he downed it. I knew this because I couldn’t turn my eyes away from his adam’s apple. Not the kind of healthy interest one should take in one’s future boss.
Rebekah cleared her throat to get my attention.
“I guess he’s free for the interview then. Follow me.”
She started towards the left side of the studio, the part where the other dancers were congregated, and pushed open a door on the far end. No one paid us any attention as she led me into a passage way of sorts. I could see doors leading towards the locker rooms and showers, dressing rooms and such on my left and right, marked by small metal plates on them. At the end of the passage, stood a dark wood door without a marker plate. Rebekah opened the door and ushered me in.
It was an office. Neat and tidy, with a heavy dark wood desk in the middle. I didn’t get the chance to look around properly because just as Rebekah sat me in a chair across the desk, the door flew open and in walked Nik, water bottle still in hand.
“Did you pre interview her?”
“No” Rebekah answered. “But I did the background checks and everything is per requirement.”
“I think I’ll be the judge to that. Considering the last two you hired weren’t exactly employees of the month material!”
“Oh like the others were any better. I checked out her details and they looked fine.”
“Fine to you maybe…But…”
Ok this was just getting rude! I was sitting right there. Mr Manners himself had yet to look at me. Rebekah forgot all about me. And I felt just weird.
“Ummm excuse me? Rebekah? Nik? Whatever you need to know about me, I’m right here to answer your questions. I believe that’s what face to face interviews are for.” I interjected, smiling as politely as possible at the two.
Both of them turned to look at me. Nik, for the first time.
I took a deep breath and calmed myself down.
“That’s your resume I suppose?” he nodded towards the file folder I was carrying.
I handed it over to him. He started turning the pages of my file.
“Caroline Forbes.” he said, with an odd lilt to his voice. I didn’t know whether it was a question or a statement or what exactly did he mean by just stating my name like that. “Tell me about the kind of work you have been doing.”
I could do this. I was good at this. I was a confident, educated, grown up girl. Woman. I was going to nail this!
“I did a two month summer internship at the Mystic Falls Mayor’s office, that is my hometown, working as a junior assistant intern. Following my graduation, I was hired full time as the Mayor’s junior assistant. I worked up to be her assistant in two years and worked for her for another six months. I have hosted and planned a number of events in my hometown, including fund raisers for school, dances and our own senior prom. I strive perfection in everything I do. I am organized, I work very hard and can hold my own in the middle of a crisis. If you hire me as your assistant, I’ll make sure you won’t regret your decision.”
All through my practiced speech, Nik just stared at me with a blank look on his face. I could have squirmed if I hadn’t dealt with a lot of bullies in my time. I knew he was testing my patience. I couldn’t fail.
He looked through my educational certificates, my letters of reference, and credits.
“Why do you want to be a personal assistant? Do you like being tied to another person’s schedule day in and day out?”
“I don’t look at it that way. I am not tied to them. I am helping them organize their work and schedules. Plus I am obsessed with order and straightening things out. I like doing this. It made me very successful at this kind of job.”
“Hmmm. Do you have any kind of experience with the entertainment industry?”
“Does being in the event planning committee for Miss Mystic Falls count?”
I detected a smile starting to form on his lips. A chink in his perfect poker face. He hid it well though.
“If you liked it so well, what made you leave the mayor’s job?”
I knew this question would come. That didn’t mean I was prepared to give him my reasons.
“And then you moved to LA? Right after you left that job. Why?”
“As I told you, personal reasons I don’t wish to discuss.”
“Miss Forbes you do realize my need to know of these personal reasons. How can I be sure that one day you won’t just up and leave my employment for another set of perfectly innocuous personal reasons, leaving me in a lurch? You left your hometown. It won’t take much for you to leave a strange new city that is famous for not being particularly warm to new comers.”
“Then sign a binding contract if that would help you trust me more. I am not unprofessional. You can check out my references. The mayor’s office had a three months notice before I left. I wrapped up all my tasks and trained my replacement. I may be new to this city, but I assure you that I am not a runner. I came here to make something of my life. And I won’t fail.”
I caught a slight twitch in his eye at my response, another chink, a movement that showed I had gotten across to him. That my words affected him in some way. He silently regarded me and I didn’t flinch.
Then he blinked and opened a desk drawer, without taking his eyes off me. He pulled out a manila envelope and slid it across to me.
“This is a first draft employee contract, benefits and other forms. Go through it. Fill up the employment forms if the contract is agreeable, sign it and come back tomorrow, 8:00 AM sharp.”
“I’d like you to remember that I do not appreciate tardiness of any form around me. So don’t be late. And email or text me a confirmation tonight if you are coming tomorrow.”
“Wait! You are hiring me?”
He cocked an eyebrow.
“Only if you agree to the contract Miss Forbes.”
O Thank Heavens!
“O ok… Great. This is great.” I exhaled, relieved. “I’ll see you tomorrow then, Mr…?”
“Niklaus Mikaelson.” he held out his hand to shake and smirked, the first true expression on his face. “You can call me Klaus. It was nice to meet you Miss Forbes.”