Only 99¢ for a limited time!
“My boss needs a personal shopper for Christmas, and I’ve already told him I know the very best one in Manhattan.” Toni gives me an open-mouthed smile, clearly expecting me to jump up and down.
“Your boss. As in Archibald Snooty Pants the Forty-Second?” I ask, pursing my lips.
She opens her mouth, but I cut her off with one finger in the air. “You complain about the man all the time.”
“It’s not like he’s a horrible person, he’s just a one trick pony—all work and no play. Plus, it’s not like you’ll have to work side-by-side with him or anything. You probably won’t even have to see him.”
“I’m not a personal shopper,” I tell her. “Unless his family and friends want ramen noodles or discount t-shirts from the guy who sells them out of his trunk in front of my apartment building, I would have no idea what to buy.”
“Yeah, well, Archie doesn’t know that.” She pumps her eyebrows up and down like a comedian.
“Toni, you told me the guy was a rich stuck-up preppy from the Hamptons. While I would love nothing more than to make some extra money, I don’t have the foggiest notion how to shop for rich people.”
“So watch some holiday episodes of Real Housewives and see what they buy each other. He’ll tell you how much to spend on each person. Come on, Holl, it’s not brain surgery. It’s shopping. You know how to shop. And you need the money.”
“What if he hates me?” I despise feeling so pathetic, but I’m totally out of my league here.
“Then he hates you. So what? Believe me when I tell you, Archibald Harrington only thinks about work. You can’t take anything he says personally.”
Dread slams into me like a wrecking ball. “How much do you think I can make?”
“Enough to pay for Christmas and at least the next three months of Faith’s preschool tuition. How can you pass that up?”
The answer is, I can’t. And if it means working for a cranky billionaire, then Toni is right. I’ll do whatever I have to do in order to take care of Faith. I just can’t guarantee I’ll like it.
“Fine,” I tell her. “How many gifts am I supposed to buy?”
“He’ll need all of his family gifts, which include his godfather’s family. He’s spending Christmas with them in Newport. He wants you to cover his business gifts, as well. The VIPs are starred, meaning those particular gifts need to be extra-amazing. I’ve also made you a list of everything that I want, so I don’t wind up with another Monte Blanc pen. I’ve already sold three of those suckers on eBay and I only get a fraction of what they’re worth.”
“I don’t even know what a Monte Blanc pen is.” My chest tightens like I’m not getting enough oxygen.
She hands me a piece of paper. “This is a list of websites to check out. You can order everything and have it delivered here.”
“Why can’t I just have everything sent to his office? What am I going to do with it?”
After taking a healthy swig of white zinfandel, Toni says, “You’re going to wrap everything up and make it look like Santa himself cracked the whip on the gift-wrapping elves. Once you have everything purchased and ready, I’ll send a car to pick the gifts up.”
“You’ll send a car, will you?” I tease.
“Yeah, well, I can do those fancy things in the name of my boss.”
“How am I going to pay for everything?” I ask. “I have about two hundred dollars of credit left on my card. I don’t think that’s going to cut it.”
Toni opens her purse and hands me a shiny black credit card. “There’s no limit, so if you don’t mind doing a little jail time, you could have a lot of fun.”
“No limit? I can’t imagine such a thing.” I fantasize about what damage I could do with plastic like this. Not only could I pay for Faith’s school for the rest of the year, but I could also get my mom into one of those nursing homes that has a hair salon and restaurant. I could upgrade to a two-bedroom apartment so Faith doesn’t have to sleep in the closet anymore, and I could even splurge and buy myself some real leather gloves.
“You’re imagining, aren’t you?” Toni jolts me out of my daydream.
“I most certainly am. The first thing I’d do is buy Faith whatever winter coat she wanted and then I’d take her out to a nice restaurant.”
Toni rolls her eyes. “If you’re going down for a crime, you’ve got to think bigger.”
I stare at the card for a second, then look back up at Toni. “How can you stand working for someone who has so much? Don’t you just want to steal cash out of his wallet once in a while?” I don’t really have the heart of a felon, I’m just tired of always being broke.
“The nice thing about Archie is that even though he has the personality of a killer shark, he’s generous. He has a Friday lunch catered for his staff every week, and he makes sure to float us enough extras that none of us are tempted to steal from him. He’s a good businessman.”
“Even though he’s a stuck-up preppy?” I ask for clarification.
I look at the list of stores she thinks I should shop at—Tiffany’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Harrods, The House of Bijan … “What’s my budget?”
She hands me another piece of paper. The handwriting isn’t hers, so I’m guessing it’s Archie’s. “He wants me to spend four thousand dollars on his mother?!”
“Yup. He wants her to have two gifts. One of them needs to be the main. The other can be fancy ass chocolates or something.”
“Right, but probably not gas station chocolates.”
“Quit stressing, Holls, you’ve got this.”
I don’t know why, but for the life of me I can’t see this ending well…