Emily and her grandmother, Agnes, lived in hardship and poverty, especially after Agnes fell ill. But after going to an almost failed interview with a local businessman with a bad rep, all their lives are changed.
Emily sat on the edge of the bed of the tiny one-bedroom apartment. She gently patted down her grandmother’s sweating forehead with a wet cloth, taking great care not to cause her any further pain.
She anxiously looked down at her grandmother, Agnes, who appeared to be growing paler with each passing day. Most 24-year-olds were spending their time falling in love, partying, or grinding it out in their burgeoning careers.
But not Emily. This was the life she had come to know.
And while seeing her grandmother in such dire conditions grieved her to the core, she cherished the opportunity to be there for her. Grandma was the woman who took her in as a baby after her parents passed away.
On paper, Agnes was her grandmother, but to Emily, she was the only mother and parent she had ever known.
“Oh, my beautiful child,” Agnes said, wheezing for breath as she gazed upon her granddaughter with a squint.
“Hi, Ems. His name is Tom. And like I told you, it’s a long shot. That man is a headache. My sister used to work for him, and apparently, he’s as cold as ice and extremely misogynistic when it comes to the working environment. Everybody says so.”
Agnes’ words were by no means far from the truth. Emily had a graceful beauty about her, and if she wanted to, she could have had any young man she desired. But she’d never bothered herself with such trivial pursuits, even though, like most young women her age, she longed to meet her prince charming.
She had tried dating a while back with a guy that appeared to be her dream man. But he turned out to be a money-hungry nightmare that still haunted her to this day, harassing her every chance he got.
“I really do wish you wouldn’t spend so much time worrying about me and live your life,” Agnes continued.
“I am living my life, Granny. And you are without doubt the best part of it,” Emily said with a kind smile.
“Only God knows what I would do if I didn’t have you around,” Agnes said.
“I often ask myself the same thing about you,” Emily replied before taking a long pause, grimacing with concern. “Granny, your temperature seems to be going up, and your medication is running out,” Emily said with a heartfelt sigh.
“I know, my dear. But my pension can only stretch so far,” Agnes responded dejectedly.
“Don’t worry,” Emily said with a comforting smile. “The job hunt has been a little tough. But I’m hopeful something will come through soon,” Emily added.
“I’m hopeful too. God will make a way. He always does,” Agnes said, fatigued.
“True… You seem a little tired. Let me leave you to rest. I’ll let you know how it goes,” Emily concluded, noting Agnes had already dozed off. She gently kissed her grandmother on the forehead and exited the room.
Emily left the house and caught the bus. She was off to a possible job opportunity her friend, Anna, had told her about. She called Anna just to confirm that everything was still as per schedule.
“Hey, Anna. So I’m on the way to the office now. What did you say the owner of the company’s name is again?” said Emily.
“Hi, Ems. His name is Tom. And like I told you, it’s a long shot. That man is a headache. My sister used to work for him, and apparently, he’s as cold as ice and extremely misogynistic when it comes to the working environment. Everybody says so,” Anna explained.
“Well, I guess I’ll see when I get there. I have nothing to lose at this point. Thank you again for looking out for me,” Emily said.
“No problem. That’s what friends are for!” Anna concluded, cutting the call.
Emily finally arrived at the office building and stood at the door. She took a deep breath, steeling herself, then calmly entered.
“Hey, you!” a voice aggressively called to Emily. She turned to see a plump security guard rushing towards her.
“What do you want here?” the security guard continued.
“Hi, sir. I’m here looking for a job. A friend of mine…” but before Emily could complete her sentence, the security guard was barking at her once again.
“There’s no jobs here. And unless you have an appointment, you’ve gotta’ leave!” the guard said.
Emily spent about another five minutes trying to convince the guard to let her in. However, seeing that he was mere seconds away from kicking her out by force, she decided to relent and walked out to sit by a nearby bus stop.
The bus that would take her home arrived ten minutes later and stopped right in front of her. She paused for a moment, considering whether to hop on or not.
“Young lady, do you know where you’re going?” the bus driver asked. At that moment, Emily had an epiphany.
“Yes, sir. I do. But I won’t be taking the bus home. Not yet,” Emily said, looking back at the office building.
Emily got up and stood a distance from the building, so she could see the security guard but not be identified. Thirty minutes later, the security guard left his post at the door to buy some lunch at the pizza place next door. Emily immediately took her window of opportunity and dashed into the office building.
“I was raised by a single grandmother, and right now, she is extremely ill. Her treatment is expensive, and I can’t just sit back and do nothing. Please! I’ll do anything! I’ll scrub the toilets if I have to. Anything!”
She circled around the small office space for a while until she finally found a door with Tom’s name on it. She paused and took a deep breath, muttering to herself, “C’mon, Emily! C’mon! You can do this!” She took another deep breath mustering the courage to follow through. Then, she finally knocked at the door, waiting anxiously for a response.
“Come in,” a voice finally called from the other side. Emily entered to find Tom, an attractive, smartly dressed 40-year-old man, at his desk.
“Sorry… Do I know you?” Tom asked, confused.
Emily nervously cleared her throat as she approached Tom, saying, “Uhm… No, sir. You don’t. My name is Emily, and I came here in hopes of maybe getting a job,” Emily explained.
“Maybe getting a job?” Tom retorted with a chuckle. “Well, we currently don’t have any openings at the moment, and I have quite a bit of work to do. So, please,” Tom concluded, gesturing towards the door.
Emily took a few steps towards the door, then stopped. C’mon, Emily! This may be the only shot you get, she thought. Emily turned back around, heading to a shocked Tom’s desk and boldly taking a seat on the other end of his desk.
“Listen, sir. I know you’re extremely busy, and I’ll only take a minute of your time. I know we all have our own problems, and I don’t want to bore you with my sob stories. But I really need this job. I was raised by a single grandmother, and right now, she is extremely ill. Her treatment is expensive, and I can’t just sit back and do nothing. Please! I’ll do anything! I’ll scrub the toilets if I have to. Anything!” Emily pleaded.
As Tom watched the young woman boldly make her stance, and after seeing her up close, Tom became mesmerized by Emily’s beauty. He had been so focused on his work when she entered, that he hadn’t actually gotten a chance to look at Emily properly. Furthermore, her courage seemed to enchant him even more.
And while all these thoughts played out in his head as Emily made her plea, his demeanor remained cold, stern, and aloof. Never flinching an inch, without fail. “Alright. I hear you,” Tom finally said after giving it some thought. “I’m very busy at the moment. But I’ll take time to think about it,” Tom said.
“Thank you, sir. That’s all I ask,” Emily said, getting up and walking out.
“Hey! How did you get in here?” the security guard asked, bumping into Emily in the corridor. Emily said nothing and simply shrugged with a cheeky smile.
“James!” Tom called the security, hearing him outside. The security guard, James, entered Tom’s office.
“Yes, sir?” James said, taking off his hat respectfully.
“The young lady that just left,” Tom started before James chimed in.
“I know, sir. I told her she had no business coming in here,” James said.
“What? No, I have no problem with her. I actually wanted you to find out where she lives,” Tom said.
“Her, sir? Why would you worry yourself about her? She’s nobody,” James said rather rudely.
“Do I pay you to ask questions?” Tom asked with a stern mien.
“No, sir. I’m on it,” James concluded, walking out shamefully.
For the rest of that day, Tom could barely focus on his work. He thought about Emily, her beauty, and her heartfelt story. He was deeply moved and wanted to help. But first, he had to properly assess the situation.
So, he got Emily’s address from James and drove to Emily’s place after work. He had hoped they could pick up their conversation from where they’d left off, so he could better learn about Emily and her situation.
As Tom approached Emily’s apartment, he saw her terrified at the door with a young man holding her wrist uncomfortably. Her ex-boyfriend had resurfaced, trying to milk the little money Emily and her grandmother had left.
“C’mon Emily! I just need a little cash to get me through!” Emily’s ex-boyfriend said forcefully, still tightly gripping her arm.
“Let me go, Dan! You’re hurting me!” Emily cried. Suddenly, Tom jumped into the picture, shoving Dan against the wall.
“I’d hate for the same thing to happen to someone else.”
“You heard the lady,” Tom said, staring Dan down.
“Is this your new boyfriend? Huh?” Dan barked, tightening his fist.
“It’s either you leave or we have a problem,” Tom said with a fierce gaze.
“Whatever,” Dan said, running off.
“Are you okay?” Tom asked, gently grabbing her bruised hand.
“Uhm… Err… Yeah,” a bewildered Emily stammered. “That’s my jerk of an ex. Uhm… What are you doing here?” she continued.
“Well, I had a little time to think and I thought we could continue our conversation,” Tom explained.
“Oh… Sure. Please, come in,” Emily said, ushering Tom in.
As Tom entered Emily’s apartment, he observed the poor living conditions – the peeling wallpaper, the tattered furniture, and the small, cramped room that Emily and her grandmother shared. His heart melted as he saw a frail Agnes lying on a bed, coughing and struggling to breathe.
“Uhm… Well, I won’t waste too much of your time. I just wanted to let you know we have a spot for you. It won’t be scrubbing toilets, but it will involve a lot of paperwork. It should help you look after your grandmother as well as yourself,” Tom said with a warm smile.
“What?!” Emily cried, squealing with joy. “I can’t believe it! Thank you so much!” Emily yelled, leaping into Tom’s arms and giving him a tight hug.
“Uhm.. Sorry. It’s just… It’s just great news,” Emily said as she awkwardly pulled back, noting her forwardness.
“It’s okay,” Tom replied with an easy chuckle.
“I have to ask, though… Why?” Emily said.
“Well, for one, your courage. I could use someone like you at the office. And secondly, I wasn’t always what you’d consider a so-called thriving businessman. In fact, I was raised in conditions much like yours. My own grandmother passed away because my family couldn’t afford her treatment. I’d hate for the same thing to happen to someone else,” Tom explained, trying his best to hold back his tears as he relieved his tragic past.
Emily saw Tom’s eyes beginning to well, and as a single tear fell to his cheek. She tenderly wiped it off as they glared into each other’s eyes as if finally seeing each other for the first time.
“I’m sorry. I’m a little forward sometimes,” Emily said, breaking the ice.
“It’s alright,” Tom responded.
“You know, people say you’re a bad person. And a part of me thinks you might even prefer it that way. But I don’t buy it,” Emily said, almost in a whisper.
“You can’t believe everything people say,” Tom replied.
“No, you can’t. People will always judge. And it’s easy to do that when you don’t know someone’s story. And we all have stories. I’d just like to thank you again for helping me with mine,” Emily said.
“It’s my pleasure. Who knows? Perhaps someday you’ll do the same for me,” Tom said, walking to the door. “I hope your grandmother recovers quickly. And I’ll see you first thing tomorrow morning,” Tom concluded, exiting the door. Emily stood there, blushing as she watched Tom leave.
Over the next months that followed, Emily was able to pay for her grandmother’s treatment, and she recovered speedily as Tom. Unfortunately for Tom, things were not as smooth for him with his business.
He started to experience cash-flow problems, and struggled to keep the business afloat. Emily told Agnes about the issues Tom was having with the company, and feeling compelled to aid the man that saved her life, she asked Emily to arrange to have Tom over for dinner. Later that evening, all three of them sat at the table full of cheer and grandma Agnes’ famous meatloaf.
“Thank you for that, Agnes,” Tom said as Emily Agnes cleared the dinner table.
“Grandma, don’t bother yourself. I’ll clean up,” Emily said, getting up to help.
“Nonsense! One of the blessings of having your health restored is that you get to be useful. It’s my pleasure to be able to serve you. You and Tom can do the dishes,” Agnes said, turning to Tom. “And you, my dear, have nothing to thank me for. It’s the least I could do after you helped my daughter and I back on our feet. More literally on my part,” Agnes said with a chuckle.
“In fact, I have something for you,” Agnes said, going to the bedroom. Tom and Emily shared a confused look. Agnes came back with a ring box and handed it to Tom.
“What’s this?” Tom asked, confused. He opened it to find a ring inside.
“This one, my dear, is for you,” Tom said, getting on one knee before Emily. “Will you do me the honor of making me the happiest man on—”
“That’s an answer to your cash flow problems,” Agnes said.
“Is that grandpa’s wedding ring?” Emily asked in awe.
“Yes, my dear. Tom should be able to make quite a bit from it at the pawnshop. It’s not much, but it should buy you some time until you can get things running right again. I know you can. You just need a little help,” Agnes said.
“Grandma, you can’t give that away. That’s one of your most prized possessions,” Emily said.
“I agree with Emily, ma’am. I can’t possibly accept this,” Tom said, handing it back.
“You helped us when we needed it the most. It’s only right that we do the same. Now please, child, accept my gift and use it to keep my grandchild employed,” Agnes insisted, handing it back to Tom.
“Thank you so much! You’re a lifesaver, Agnes,” Tom said, accepting the gift.
“I could say the same about you, young man,” Agnes concluded.
Tom took the ring to a pawn shop the next day and invested the money into his business. After a while, business not only began to pick up again, but Tom was doing even better than before. Tom arranged for a dinner at Agnes’ house to thank Agnes and Emily for what they had done. At the end of the dinner, Tom pulled out two rings.
“And what is this?” Agnes asked as Tom handed him one of the rings.
“This is your ring. I was able to buy it back from the pawn shop,” Tom said.
“And the second one?” Emily asked, confused.
“This one, my dear, is for you,” Tom said, getting on one knee before Emily. “Will you do me the honor of making me the happiest man on—”
“Yes! Yes! Yes!” Emily screamed before Tom could even get a word out.
Tom and Emily got married two months later in a small ceremony, surrounded by friends and family. Agnes was over the moon when she finally got to walk her baby girl down the aisle. Emily, on the other hand, was simply overjoyed to know the real Tom turned out to be far way better than anything people had tried to paint him as.