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Mia Sinclair was on the fourth and top level of the grand Victorian house. She has been making her way up to the top floor, checking and making sure all the windows and doors of the 7000 square-foot mansion were closed and locked before she went home for the night. She stepped outside to the view deck. It was a chilly December night but Mia was mesmerised by the thousands of lights from the houses below and the view of the Bay from the deck.
Mia thought this mansion was the most beautiful house she has ever seen in all of San Francisco. Not that she had seen the inside of any other houses in this affluent part of the city before, they were private residences of ultra rich people after all.
This renovated Queen Anne mansion on the quiet tree-lined sloping street of Pacific Avenue near Alta Plaza Park has twelve rooms in total, including five bedrooms, five baths, three view terraces and six fireplaces. The vintage white asymmetrical facade of the house was a broad mix of architectural elements – sloping roof with overlapping gables, triangular pediment on top of ornamented entablatures, round and angled bays housing small paned sashes and flat glass. The interior was a blend of the original elements of its 1880s structure and contemporary style, walnut hardwood floors, elegant fixtures and marble accents. The foyer flowed to a living room with modern lighting, soft gray plush sofa, black marble fireplace, a formal dining room, which also flowed perfectly into the kitchen, a family room and a deck with views across the Bay to Marin County.
The master suite on the second level of the mansion has its own fireplace, view terrace and a luxurious master bath with an adjoining large walk-in closet. There were also two guest bedrooms on the second floor. The pent room at the top level of the house was bright and spacious. It also has a media room and exercise space with a wet bar and a deck offering glorious views of the Bay, Alcatraz, Treasure Islands and Marin headlands. The lowest level of the mansion has another family room with floor to ceiling glass walls leading to a covered heated patio, adjoining an office space. It also has the wine room, mudroom, laundry room, a full bath and the three-car garage.
The grand house was a work of art. Mia was lucky to call this place her workplace, she thought. When the employment agency called about a cook/house manager position less than a year ago, Mia was surprised but she did not hesitate to accept it. Even though she didn't have any real experience in cooking for anyone other than herself, her cousin Emily and her friend, Chrissy, or running a household, she was confident she could pull through, she pulled through more difficult things in her life after all. It was also the best salary she had ever been offered.
The money she's been making as a hotel cleaner, waitress and sometimes bartender paid her food, rent and state university fees but being able to finally set something aside, not living from paycheck to paycheck, was a lucky break indeed. In her mid-twenties and she's still doing her best to finish her hotel management degree. She only has a year left to go and she'll be damned if she'll let all the hard years spent between working and going to school to waste.
Mia lost both of her parents on her eighteenth birthday. In spite of the government stating that eighteen was already an adult, she didn't feel like she could handle life without her beloved parents, who died in a car crash while buying her birthday cake. Mia wanted to go to college just like her parents' wishes and she had been waiting to get this off her bucket list. She didn't mind that it's taking her longer to finish college than her peers. She didn't mind that her parents left her with almost nothing when they died and that she had to deal with adult stuff, like funerals, selling all of their belongings to settle her parents' debts, looking for a new home and working her ass off to survive. She didn't mind that she had no one to turn to when her world collapsed. That’s not entirely true. Her cousin Emily offered to help her countless times, she was just too stubborn to accept her help. She just didn’t want to be a burden to anyone.
She had buried her gut-wrenching grief and loneliness at the back of her brain and when they threatened to overwhelm her at odd times of the day, week or month, she stomped them back in their small corner with vengeance. She couldn't afford to fall apart because no one was there to pick her up. Mia's sense of practicality kept her alive and sane.
When the cold was sipping through Mia's old baby pink ribbed cashmere sweater, she realised she had been standing at the deck for too long. It was weeks before Christmas and the streets were busy even at night. She was thinking it would be relaxing to walk from Pacific Avenue to Chinatown's Stockton Street, where she lived. It will be an hour walk if she'll be caught up with the bright Christmas lights adorning the eclectic mix of Victorian and contemporary buildings and variety of Christmas stalls along the way. Mia made her way down to the lowest level of the house, to the office where she knew she'd find her employer.
On her first day of work, Mia met the two cleaners who come in twice a week to tidy up the place. Her job description was also explained to her by Mrs. Watson, the secretary of Luke Meyer, her employer. She assumed he was an old, rich socialite who loved to host posh parties in his big house.
Oh boy could she be more wrong. Mia smiled to herself, slowing down her pace on the carpeted stairs, remembering the first time she met Luke Meyer. That night, she was done preparing his dinner and was waiting for him to come home so she can formally introduce herself. She was sitting serenely with her back straight on one of the light gray settee in the foyer when she heard the garage door opened and a car entering it. After a few minutes, she heard footsteps at the kitchen and the fridge door being opened. She was hoping he would use the front door. Mia went to the kitchen to find a tall man in pale blue dress shirt and black slacks holding a bottle of water. The man looked surprised to see her, a question forming on his mouth but she was more stunned by the frowning face. He was the most attractive man she has ever seen, swear to the heavens. She probably shouldn't do any swearing but she was just dumbfounded, star-struck.