Author's Note: Similar to "The Road Trip," this is a story that is gradually being released for free. However, there are 20+ parts available on my Patreon for those impatient readers. :)
It all started with a bored teenage girl.
Eighteen year old Ashley Roberts was one of the most popular girls at Westridge Academy. Normally, a hot, rich girl would be content with not working a day in her life, but Ashley wasn’t your average spoiled brat. There was a method to everything she did, including the hours spent working in the main office as an office assistant.
It wasn’t about the money; the pennies she made for sitting at the front desk for a few hours every week were nothing compared to the allowance her parents wired to the private high school every month for her to treat herself and to pay the poorer scholarship girls to do her homework. Not that her parents knew the latter.
But money wasn’t everything. The assistant position gave Ashley access. All kinds of access. Being in the main office let her suck up to teachers and administrators with none of her peers around to catch her in the act. When no one was looking over her shoulder, she could peruse the files of any student she wanted to check out. And, on those rare instances when she felt bold enough and knew she could get away with it, Ashley could go into the system and change students’ grades. Never a lot; nothing noticeable. But if a girl was irritating her, Ashley could change an A to an A- or a B+ to a B. Worst case scenario, one of those girls would notice an error or two and appeal their grade to get it fixed. If they kept copies of their previous semesters’ grades, of course. Without proof, they’d just look like girls trying to boost their GPA. For the most part, Ashley assumed that her little edits would go unnoticed. It was more for personal satisfaction and petty revenge, as flaunting her exploits would get her into some serious trouble.
There were protocols that were supposed to prevent such abuse, of course, but administrators were busy. Ashley wasn’t supposed to be at the desk without supervision, and technically the rule was to log a student worker out of the computer’s main account whenever there wasn’t an adult present in the office. No one had time for that. Ashley worked there all the time, and always with a polite smile and a helpful attitude. Micromanaging her was too much of a hassle, especially since it would mean constantly pulling her away from the computer whenever anyone had to deliver a copy, grab a signature, or take a quick meeting. Ashley was good at her job. She kept everyone’s schedules up to date, she filed paperwork like a pro, and, after a few weeks of working there, no one batted an eye when she was the only one manning the office.
Ashley was quite happy with the arrangement. Her friends bought the excuse that she worked over lunch every few days as a punishment for whatever trouble she was causing that week. The administrators trusted her enough to leave her alone, and knew nothing about her antics outside of classroom hours. It was perfect; the lies to her girlfriends gave her a rebellious reputation and the lies to the adults kept her in good standing at the school.
Most importantly, her admin-like powers just added onto what being rich and popular already granted her.
It was ideal.
Like most things, however, the job eventually grew monotonous. Her grades got a small upward boost, her enemies’ grades took a minor hit, and there was nothing else she could really get away with while still avoiding any suspicion.
Until the inspiration that struck her in the form of a new arrival—the perfect little blonde haired target. The perfect cure to Ashley’s boredom.
Amelia Martin nervously sat in her car, counting down the minutes.
She had aimed to be early, but not this early. Her interview was at 12:45 PM, and she pulled into the parking lot just before 12:20. After triple checking her hair and outfit in the mirror, all she could do was draft verbal answers in her mind. Strengths and weaknesses, why she wanted the job, etc. Fresh out of college, the still twenty-two year old really, really wanted this. Westridge Academy was the most prestigious school in the state; an all girls’ academy that groomed teenagers for Ivy League colleges and for later success in life as well. Amelia figured it was worth a shot. Worst case scenario, she could say that she tried, before looking at other private schools. Failing those, she’d get into tutoring or something, as public schools did not appeal to her at all in this day and age.
This wasn’t a full teaching job, but it was a good stepping stone. It was somewhere between a TA position and an internship. Grading papers, leading review sessions, and observing classes would all be part of the teaching side of things, but she would also be responsible for a bit of clerical work around the office. Other young women might have scoffed at the idea of starting their adult life without being a ‘real teacher’ right away, but Amelia knew better. This position offered nearly twice the salary of what she could get as a teacher anywhere else, and that number would only go up once she put in her time and proved herself as someone who could lead a classroom by herself.
After killing almost ten minutes in the car, she finally stepped out just before 12:30. Fifteen minutes early, give or take. Anything more would seem too much, and anything less seemed unprofessional for a school that had such a strong reputation.
She gave herself one last look in the car window, then walked towards the private school’s main office. Everything about her image was carefully crafted. Amelia was short and petite, and her mentors had warned her about the challenges that came with being small in the career path she had chosen. Gaining respect from teenagers was difficult enough for any young adult, and more so when it came to students who were taller than her.
Amelia’s first and last growth spurt was in middle school. She was one of the first in her class to get curves, but that excitement didn’t last for very long. Year after year, her peers developed more and more in both the height and chest department, and she found herself stuck with pretty much just enough curves to identify her as a girl. As a woman, now. She had accepted it, but it didn’t prevent that self conscious feeling from creeping in every now and then when someone assumed she was younger than she was. Liquor stores would excessively check her ID, people would often assume she was still in high school whenever she wore anything too casual, etc. Amelia figured she might appreciate her youthful features when she was older, but it was a huge pain at her current age.
For that reason, she went through plenty of lengths to subvert her immature features. Three inch heels, for height. She was always tempted to do more, but it was important to find a balance between comfort and image. Push-up bras with a bit of padding most days, save for when she was at the gym. Her long, blonde hair was always straightened and then gently curled at the ends for a mature, attractive look. Finally, tactical make-up to hide the few freckles that came with her fair skin, and whatever subtle tricks with eyeshadow and other additions here and there that completed the day’s image.
Normally that was it, but her interview called for a classy outfit as well. Hopefully the modest black skirt and white blouse combo would paint her in a mature and professional light. Amelia wanted this job so badly. She kept telling herself it was only to say that she tried, as the open position aligned so well with graduation and subsequent job hunt, and she could only imagine what kind of competition she might be dealing with. But still. Any other school in the state would be a step down from the impressive campus she had taken in during her drive.
It was easy enough to find where she had to go. The signage in the administration building was intuitive; no surprise there. However, Amelia hadn’t expected the main office to be so empty. As she let the heavy wooden door close behind her, the only face to be found was that of a dark haired student sitting behind the front desk. “Can I help you?” the girl asked, already looking her way after the door opening caught her attention.
“Umm,” Amelia hesitated. She had expected someone on staff, not some girl that was clearly a student here. The plaid green tie over the white button-down was the same as what Amelia had seen on the website during her prep research, as was the dark blazer sitting on the back of the girl’s desk chair. Though Amelia couldn’t confirm it from where she was standing, she assumed the girl also had the plaid skirt that matched the tie underneath. “I’m here for an interview with Mrs. Thompson.”
“Student teacher, I’m assuming?” the girl asked. She looked Amelia up and down without being particularly subtle about it, “You don’t look like the IT type. What’s your name?”
Rude. Or maybe ‘blunt’ would be the better word. But Amelia knew better than to let it get to her. One of the challenges of working at an expensive private school would be dealing with judgmental rich girls. “Amelia. Amelia Martin,” she said.
“Ashley. Ashley Roberts. Nice to meet you,” the girl said, her lips pursed in a small smile as she turned her attention to the computer at her desk. After a few moments of typing and clicking, Ashley glanced back up, “Sorry, Ms. Martin. Did nobody call you? Or email you?”
“Umm, no. I don’t think so,” Amelia said. Her heart dropped at the notion that somebody else might have already swiped the job up. And, insult to injury, she already dressed up, made the drive, and psyched herself up for an interview. So much for Westridge Academy being the best, at least in the communication department. “What is it?” Best to rip the bandaid off.
“Mrs. Thompson had a family emergency come up,” Ashley said, “All of her appointments today were cancelled. You should have gotten a call.”
She was lying.
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