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Emma Cole, a nerd in high school and untouched all throughout her life at a community college, was abandoned by her birth parents and grew up in foster care homes all around New York。 Whenever her name was mentioned, the people who knew her laughed and called her foul names, since she looked like the female version of Steve Urkel and was easy to pick on and belittle。 She had no sense of style。 All she wore were big dresses that hid her tiny figure underneath and glasses which didn“t do her eyes any justice。 She owned one bag– a beat-up leather she received as a gift from a spelling bee contest her freshman year in high school。
Though she went to school, she had no friends, no family, and no one to teach her about becoming a lady。 Emma had done everything by herself since she was one year old– the age she was dumped by her parents into the foster system。
At age twenty three, she lived in a very small apartment by herself。 She wasn“t able to land a high-paying job to afford a good house, as of yet。 Every time she applied to a vacant position she may have seen in a newspaper in the cafe, they would turn her down when she went to the interviews and the interviewers took one look at her。 Appearance was more than her qualifications if she wanted to land a job as a receptionist or personal assistant at one of the big firms in New York City。
Emma decided to stop hoping for a better job and stuck with being a waitress at Carl“s Cafe。
Her hell on earth。
Carl was the manager and owner of the cafe。 A grown man, forty-five years old, who had experienced all the things he had chosen to chase in his pathetic life。 He was a terrible boss and treated his employees as his personal slaves with low wages。 One of his nasty habits was hitting on his female employees while on the job, but he never hit on Emma。 Although she was a female, she just wasn“t his type and was too unattractive to even be bothered with。
It was Wednesday morning。
Emma had only just clocked-in。 She placed her bag in her designated locker and began to take the orders of the customers, who were already in abundance for their morning coffee or pancakes and eggs or any breakfast meals of their choice from the menus provided。
She was about to deliver the orders to the kitchen when a pair of hands grabbed her by the arm。
“You have to work a double today。 Tisha is sick。 I need you to fill in。“ And he was gone right after his command。
Emma continued to the kitchen to drop off the customers“ orders。 Since Tisha was sick, she would have to take her place at the cash register and coffee machines。 She was about to have another terrible day in hell but, obeying Carl“s command, she worked the double shift without complaint。
On Thursday, the same thing happened– working a double without getting anything extra for filling in。 And the same thing happened on Friday。
Emma was drained, but it was finally Saturday, and it was her day off。 She decided to visit a library and take several books to the park for a read。 It was the beginning of summer, and she needed the fresh air。
She had just stepped out of her narrow bathroom when her cheap phone, which still had raised keys and couldn“t connect to WiFi, rang。
“Emma, I need you to come in right now。 Be here in less than twenty minutes!“
Before she could object he had hung up。 She had really hoped for some free time to herself, and apart from that, she was exhausted, but she had to comply。 How would she afford her crap apartment if she was jobless?
She took her precious time getting ready and arrived an hour later than Carl demanded she be there。 He was furious with her and yelled at her as soon as she clocked in。
“I told your malnourished ass to be here in less than twenty minutes!“
Indeed Emma Cole appeared very skinny due to all the over-sized clothes she wore。 Without even giving him a glance, she went to the customers to take their orders。
When she was making coffee for an angry, beer belly guy at the front of the line, who was yelling at her and calling her names, she lost her temper and threw the entire cup of coffee in his face。 He had called her an incapable, handicapped, low-budget paying maid, who wouldn“t even get extra if she shook it at a strip club because she looked like the hobbit in Lord of the Rings。
She had never been so humiliated。 Yes, she had it rough in high school but it had gotten a little better at college because everyone there seemed much more mature than the bullies at high school。 Now, this grown man was yelling at her because his coffee was ten minutes late。 It wasn“t even her fault。 She was supposed to be off today。 Had he kept his mouth shut, she wouldn“t have splashed the coffee all over his chubby, beard-covered face。
Carl appeared just as the man was about to throw a table back at Emma。 “Hey hey hey, what“s going on here?“
“That incompetent waitress of yours just threw a damn cup of hot coffee in my face, man!“
“Sir, please calm down and put the table down。 I“ll handle this,“ Carl instructed。 “Emma! You“re fired!“
“What, you don“t even want to hear what I have to say? He embarrassed me and。。。“
Carl cut her off, “Get your things and get out。 I can“t have you throwing coffee in people“s faces and still have you working here。 GET OUT, EMMA!!“
Emma threw her apron to the ground, took her bag out of the locker and walked out。 “I hated it here anyway,“ she said as she passed Carl and the impatient customers on the way out。

Chapter 1 ( News Paper )
Emma“s POV
I buried my head on my stale pillows when I got home, hitting them with my hands from my anger as the tears came。
I“ve been fired, what am I going to do now?
I somehow managed to gather myself and my emotions。 It was still early。
“There“s still time to go to the library and then the park,“ I said to myself as I got off the bed。
I changed into something skimpier, still concealing my entire figure underneath。 I was insecure about my body and ashamed of the scars it possessed。
I started on my heel and headed to the library then the park。 I was sitting on the bench reading Counting Raindrops Through A Stained Glass Window, when an old lady with platinum blonde hair sat down beside me。
“Hello dear,“ she greeted, kindly。
For an old woman by herself in the park, she wore very expensive jewelry。 I could tell just by looking at it。
“Hello ma“am,“ I greeted back with a small smile。 I continued with my book as she opened a newspaper。
Twenty minutes into reading, two men in black tuxedos approached our bench。 They resembled characters in Men In Black– not a smile on their faces as they took long strides toward us。
I panicked。 I was easily frightened。
The elder woman stood up and extended her arms to them。 They held onto her, supporting her to help her stand on her own two feet。 They left without another word。 Suddenly, I noticed she had forgotten her newspaper。 I took it and ran in their direction。
“Excuse me, ma“am!“ I called, getting a little closer, but was cutoff by one of the bodyguards。
“Can I help you miss?“ he asked firmly, with a tone that made me regret running after them。
“I“m sorry, the。。。 lady forgot 。。。her newspaper。“ I was out of breath。 Damn, I needed to exercise more。
“Why don“t you keep it and educate yourself? Maybe then you“ll find out who “the lady“ is, so you can address her by her name next time。“
His response was rude but encouraging。 I walked back to the bench and watched as the black SUV drove away with her inside。 I looked at the page she was reading to the left side of the article it stated: “Personal Assistant wanted at Hollen Tower。 Terms and conditions apply。“
And, of course, terms and conditions meant college education, knowledge about the job“s responsibilities, punctual, fluent in English, impeccable character, previous work experience, related employment history, and more。 I had applied for so many jobs like this before but gotten turned down once they looked at me– like I wasn“t human。 I wasn“t like them。
I wasn“t like them, actually。 I didn“t own a house or a car or have expensive clothes and shoes, or have the ability to wine and dine at restaurants, but I was a human being too!
I was a plain and simple one。 I lived in a cheap apartment, wore beat-up clothes that were stained and crumpled; I ate scraps left in the kitchen at Carl“s Cafe after breakfast, lunch and dinner were served。 After my rent was paid I usually had money for my essential needs, like feminine products and canned foods that didn“t spoil in a hurry– since I didn“t own a refrigerator。
I was at rock bottom, but I“d accepted it and learned how to be satisfied with the little I had and could afford。 I found comfort in reading books。 I loved reading about the poor girls who found princes and billionaires who swept them off their feet, got married and lived happily ever after like Cinderella。 I kept on wishing something like that would happen to me, but they were only books; they were fiction。 In this modern world princes and billionaires didn“t go for poor girls like me。 They dated models and designers, and women with the looks, body, and beauty who could fit into their lifestyle。 Who would want someone like me?
I got on my feet and left the park before it got too dark out。 I was afraid of walking the streets at night。
I arrived at my apartment three hours later。 I sat on a hard, uncomfortable chair as I read through the newspaper“s articles one more time。 Something at the back of my mind told me that I should give it one more shot, but something else just wanted me to give up。
“Look at your life, Emma, you got fired today。 You“re jobless, the rent would be due at the end of the month or else out on the street you go。 You don“t have anyone who could take you in and care about you。 You have to try to get another job,“  said one side。
“Emma, just give up。 You“re not going to get a job at Hollen Tower。 It“s too grand for your taste。 They“ll do what they always do, take one look at you and turn their faces。 Just give up, you“ll be evicted, so what? You wouldn“t be the first to get evicted and live on the streets。 Why not join a gang?“ said the other。
I was frustrated。 I looked at my life and cried myself to sleep。
I knew when the clock struck seven the next morning I would be out of this shack and on my way to Hollen Tower。 I needed to try just one more time。
This time I will make bigger efforts in my appearance to land the job。 I will get the job, just watch。
Emma“s POV
I woke before my alarm。 I wanted to wake up early so I could iron my clothes and look extra sharp。 I looked through my suitcase underneath the tiny bed。 I pulled out a black skirt that dropped below my knees, along with a white shirt with black buttons down the middle。 I placed them on the bed and hurried downstairs to the laundry mart to borrow the iron since I didn“t own one。 Mrs。 Lee, who worked in the laundry rooms, always lent it to me whenever I asked her。

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