Jack leaned against the wall outside the conference room and eyed with disinterest the crop of new summer employees filing into the mandatory orientation meeting. It was the same types every summer and some of the same actual people – college co-eds, a few retirees, some jock guys to fill in the recreation staff, seasoned waiters recruited for summer work, golf and tennis pros who travelled to clubs all year round. This was Jack’s fifth summer on Indigo Island as an employee and his tenth summer visiting the island. This year was different though. When all the summer tourists departed on Labor Day, he’d still be here. It was too late to apply anywhere else.
He’d arrived two weeks before Memorial Day, a week after graduating with honors from University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management in Orlando. Jack had a blast his senior year, knowing he’d landed a management position with Top Club on Indigo Island as soon as he graduated. He had the offer in-hand at Christmas, with Steve Fordham’s signature across the bottom welcoming him to the team, welcoming him to management. He’d be the first person promoted from lifeguard to the front office, and the youngest in management ever.
His mom had been so proud, her eyes were glistening at the dinner table as he told her the news. Since he was the only child now, he knew it would be especially hard when he moved away. But he’d always take care of his mom. He was all she had.
Jack’s ambitions were huge. He knew he’d own his own chain of hotels someday. At least that was the plan. He’d learned a lot at college – tourism and guest services management, hospitality industry finance, information systems management and even techniques of food preparation. He’d loved classes in culture and cuisine, facilities management and even enjoyed the revenue management courses. When he’d told his mom he took an elective in Yacht, Country and City Club management she had laughed hysterically over the telephone. He didn’t mention any of the other classes after that, especially not the history and culture of wine. Jack wasn’t laughing, not about any of this. It was his future. He’d make her proud, and, with his success, he’d try to make his mom happy again.
A group of five newly hired college co-eds walked noisily down the hall headed for orientation. When they spotted Jack, they all started to hit each other and whisper, a situation Jack was more than accustomed to. He flashed them his dimpled smile as they walked past. He’d always be friendly to them, but he wasn’t available, not more than a one-night stand. Not to them, not to anyone.
“Oh my God, he’s so hot,” the short blonde said as they passed him and strutted into the conference room.
“Aren’t you joining us, Jack?” Steve said, punching him in the arm. Steve was drenched, as always, in aftershave, a scent so strong it must double as bug repellent.
“Sure, if you need me to. I feel like I already know this stuff.”
“This stuff, as you call it, is important, son. Especially if you want to be in management,” Steve said, lowering his voice.
“I have an offer in hand from you. I am in management. I should have started two weeks ago,” Jack said, his brown eyes narrowing as he stared at his boss.
“I told you, I’ll honor it. I paid you for the summer, upfront, like you demanded as I recall. So now you just need to wait until the season is over. Three months and the position is yours, as long as you maintain a stellar employment record. You can do that, can’t you?” Steve said, patting Jack on the shoulder.
Jack wanted to pull away, or punch him, but said, “Sure, Steve. ETQ all the way.”
“Good,” Steve said, and walked into the conference room.
End of Excerpt