The Wall of Winnipeg and Me(6)

by Mariana Zapata

Just his size alone had been intimidating enough for me initially. His piercing brown-eyed gaze only added to the massive amount of intimidation he seemed to bleed out of his pores.

Regardless of that though, my first thought had been: Holy shit. Then I had shoved it away because I couldn’t be thinking things like that about my brand new boss.

That day of our first meeting, all I had managed to do was nod at him. I’d gone in convinced I’d do whatever was needed to keep the job. His manager and the agency had made sure during the interview process that I knew cooking was part of the job requirement, which wasn’t a big deal. When I was a kid, I’d learned the hard way that if I wanted to eat, I was going to have to do something about it because my older sisters weren’t going to trouble themselves, and I never knew what kind of mood my mom would be in. During college, I’d mastered the art of cooking on a contraband hotplate in my dorm room.

Aiden had simply stared at me in response before laying the bomb on me that no one had prepared me for. “I don’t eat any animal products. Will that be a problem?”

Did I know how to make anything without eggs, meat, or cheese in it? Not that I could think of. No one had even mentioned that stipulation beforehand—and ignorantly, it wasn’t like he looked like most vegans I’d met in my life—but there was no way in hell I was going back to working three jobs if I absolutely didn’t have to. So, I’d bullshitted. “No, sir.”

He’d stood there in the kitchen, looking down at me in my navy khakis, cap-sleeved, white, eyelet blouse, and brown heels. I’d been so nervous I even had my hands clasped in front of me. The agency had suggested business casual attire for the job, and that’s what I’d gone with. “Are you sure?” he’d asked.

I had nodded, already planning to search for recipes on my phone.

His eyes had narrowed a bit, but he didn’t call me out on what was obviously a lie, and that was more than I could have hoped for. “I don’t enjoy cooking or going out to eat. I usually eat four times a day and have two big smoothies, too. You’ll be in charge of meals, and I’ll handle anything I eat between,” he said as he crossed his arms over what seemed like a three-foot-wide chest.

“The desktop computer upstairs has all of my passwords saved. Read and respond to all my emails; my PO Box needs to be checked a few times a week, and you’re in charge of that too. The key is in the drawer by the refrigerator. I’ll write down the post office it’s at and box number later. When I come back, you can go make a copy of my house key. My social sites need to be updated daily; I don’t care what you post as long as you use some common sense.”

He’d definitely made sure to meet my eyes when he added that, but I hadn’t taken it personally.

“Laundry, scheduling…” he went off to include more tasks that I filed into the mental vault. “I have a roommate. We talked about it, and if you’re up for the task, he might want you to make him food too sometimes. He’ll pay you extra if you decide to do it.”

Extra money? I never said no to extra money. Unless it required a blowjob.

“Do you have any questions?” my new boss had asked.

All I had managed to do was shake my head. Everything he said was common for the position I was taking, and I might have been too busy gaping at him to say much else. I’d never seen a pro football player in person, though I’d been friends with someone back in college who played for our school. Back then, I hadn’t thought people could be built on such a large scale, and I might have been trying to figure out how much Aiden had to eat to get in the amount of calories he needed in his diet.