“Well, we wouldn’t want that,” Jerome said with a wink.
Frederica hesitated a moment, then cleared her throat.
“Um, can I help you with your bag?” she asked.
“You already did,” the woman replied, gesturing vaguely toward the sky. “Remember?”
“No, I mean, I work here,” Frederica said. “It’s my job to, you know, carry bags.”
The woman chuckled.
“Don’t worry about it,” she said. “I’m not a customer, I’m—”
“Melody, there you are!”
Ronnie appeared on the mezzanine at the top of the grand staircase. She flew down over the railing and pulled the woman into a hug, lifting her off her feet. Then Ronnie stepped back and glanced at Frederica.
“Fred, this is Melody, my granddaughter,” she said, and turned to Melody. “This is Frederica, that summer hire I was telling you about.”
“Nice to finally meet you,” Melody said, shaking Frederica’s hand. “Ronnie’s told me some rather implausible stories about you. I look forward to finding out which ones were actually true.”
“I’ll, uh, try not to be too disappointing,” Frederica said.
“Well, you’re doing pretty good so far,” Melody replied. “I’ll try not to drop any more luggage on you.”
“Oh, that’s okay,” Frederica said. “I’ve got a pretty hard head. At least, that’s what my exes tell me. And my friends. And my family. Pretty much everybody who knows me, really.”
“Is that why you fit in so well here?” she asked.
“I… don’t think I can answer that question and still keep my job,” Frederica replied.
Melody winked and said, “Nice save.”
Frederica smirked and glanced down at the floor. Ronnie cleared her throat.
“Right,” Frederica said. “I should, um, clock in and stuff. I’ll… see you around?”