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Home > Promised (One Night #1)(7)

Promised (One Night #1)(7)
Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

After disposing of the cup, the saucer, and the offending napkin, then locking up with Sylvie, I finally reach the conclusion that M stands for Moron.

Chapter 2

Del leads us through the staff entrance of the hotel, dishing out instructions, pointing to the serving area and ensuring that we’re aware of the type of clientele.

Bottom line: posh.

I can deal with that. Once I’d checked on Nan, she virtually pushed me out the front door and chucked my black Converse out after me before she went to get ready for bingo with George at the local oldies group.

‘Never leave anyone with an empty glass,’ Del calls over his shoulder, leading on, ‘and ensure all empties are delivered back to the kitchen so they can be washed and refilled.’

I follow Sylvie, who’s following Del, listening intently as I pile my heavy hair up and secure it with a hair tie. It sounds easy enough, and I absolutely love people-watching so tonight could be fun.

‘Here.’ Del stops and thrusts a round silver tray at both of us, looking down at my feet. ‘You didn’t have any black flats?’

Following his line of sight, I look down and pull my black trousers up a little. ‘These are black.’ I wriggle my toes within my Converse, thinking how much more my feet would hurt if I were wearing anything else.

He doesn’t say any more; just rolls his eyes and leads on until we’re in a chaotic kitchen space where dozens of hotel staff are flying around, shouting and barking orders at each other. I move closer to Sylvie as we continue walking. ‘Is it just us?’ I ask, suddenly a little alarmed. All of the frantic activity suggests a lot of guests.

‘No, there will be the agency staff he uses, too. We’re back-ups.’

‘Does he do this a lot, then?’

‘It’s his main income. I don’t know why he keeps the bistro.’

I nod thoughtfully to myself. ‘Doesn’t the hotel provide a catering service?’

‘Oh yes, but the type of people you’re about to feed and water call the shots, and if they want Del, they’ll have Del. He’s notorious in this game. You have to try his canapés.’ She kisses her fingertips, making me laugh.

My boss shows us around the room where the function is being held and introduces us to the many other waiters and waitresses, all looking bored and inconvenienced. This is obviously a regular thing for them, but not me. I’m looking forward to it.

‘Ready?’ Sylvie places a final glass of champagne onto my tray. ‘Now, the trick is to hold it on your palm.’ She picks up her own tray, her palm underneath in the centre. ‘Then swing it up onto your shoulder, like this.’ In one fluid movement, the tray glides through the air and lands on her shoulder, without even a chink from glasses touching. I’m fascinated. ‘See?’ The tray glides back down from her shoulder until it’s at waist level again. ‘When offering, hold it here, and when you’re moving around, keep it up here.’ The tray swishes through the air, landing on her shoulder perfectly again. ‘Remember to relax when you’re on the move. Don’t be stiff. You try.’

I slide my full tray from the counter and position my palm in the centre. ‘It’s not heavy,’ I muse, surprised.

‘Yes, but remember when empty glasses start replacing full glasses it’ll get even lighter, so bear that in mind when you’re transferring it up and down.’

‘Okay.’ I swivel my wrist, taking the tray up to my shoulder with ease. I smile brightly, taking it back down again.

‘You’re a natural.’ Sylvie laughs. ‘Let’s go.’

Transferring the tray back to my shoulder, I swivel on my Converse and head towards the increasing sound of chatting and laughing that’s coming from the function room.

On entering, my navy eyes widen, taking in the wealth, the gowns and the dinner jackets. But I don’t feel nervous. I feel stupidly excited. This is people-watching at its best.

Without waiting for any prompt from Sylvie, I lose myself in the growing crowds, presenting my tray to groups of people and smiling, whether they thank me or not. Most don’t, but it doesn’t dampen my mood. I’m in my element, and I’m surprised by it. The tray glides up and down with ease, my body shifts effortlessly through the masses of wealth, and I dance back and forth to the kitchen time and time again to restock and redeliver.

‘You’re doing good, Livy,’ Del tells me, just as I’m leaving with another trayload of champagne flutes.

‘Thank you!’ I sing, keen to get myself back to my thirsty crowd. I catch Sylvie across the room, and she smiles, encouraging a further beam from me. ‘Champagne?’ I ask, presenting my tray to a group of six middle-aged men, all kitted out in dinner jackets and bow ties.

‘Ah! Bloody marvellous!’ a stout man gushes, taking a glass and handing it to one of his companions. He does this a further four times before taking one for himself. ‘You’re doing a fine job, young lady.’ His free hand moves toward me and slips into my pocket as he winks. ‘Treat yourself.’

‘Oh no!’ I shake my head. I won’t take money from a man. ‘Sir, I get paid by my boss. You really mustn’t.’ I try to retrieve the note from my pocket while holding the tray steady on my palm. ‘We don’t expect tips.’

‘I won’t hear of it,’ he insists, pulling my hand from my pocket. ‘And it’s not a tip. It’s for the pleasure of seeing such beautiful eyes.’

I immediately blush bright red, stumped for anything to say. He must be sixty, if a day! ‘Sir, really, I can’t accept it.’

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