Beloved Vows, Book 4
Beloved Vows, Book 4
E mily Taylor pushed her utility cart down the hallway and wondered what it was like to die.
She hated her position as hotel maid in the posh Labrodine Hotel in downtown New York City, that was conveniently located near the train station. It paid more than her job in the shirt factory, but not that much more. The year before, she narrowly escaped the deadly 1911 shirt factory fire and having lived when so many others perished, thought she might be destined for something important in life. Working as a hotel maid was not what she had in mind. Of course, where she worked made little difference - if people knew the appalling past she so desperately kept hidden, securing and maintaining any job at all in New York City was highly unlikely.
The hotel proprietors had enough rules and regulations to fill a wash tub, all of which were slanted in favor of the establishment. Some rules, such as those forbidding thievery, went without saying, while others, such as having to purchase uniforms from the hotel, and then suffer endless weekly payments, were unkind at best. Her uniform consisted of a long-sleeved black blouse, an ankle length black taffeta skirt, a long white apron that had to be washed nightly, and a crisp white bow to wear atop her blonde hair. At least at the shirt factory, she could wear more comfortable clothes.
Foremost was the hotel's proclamation, that she take all possible precaution not to cause a scandal that might tarnish the hotel's unblemished reputation. Therefore, the attractive maids serviced the bottom floors, and the ones deemed less tempting to single and married men alike, worked higher up where the affluent enjoyed the larger and more expensively decorated rooms. Although she didn't think so, Emily was prettier than most and had little chance of working any higher than the third floor. A pity it was too, for it was well known that the affluent were more likely to leave generous tips for the maids. The top floor offered a breathtaking view of the massive city, the Atlantic Ocean, and everything in between. She'd only been that high once and often thought to disobey and venture up a second time.
Alas, she needed the job and dared not take the chance of getting caught.
Several rooms had come vacant on the third floor that morning, and three were in near ruin. Emily had no patience for lazy, careless people. There were new cigarette burns on the furniture, water on the bathroom floors, and beds in such disarray as to demand a complete remake. The hotel's policy, which was kept secret from the guests, demanded that the maids examine the sheets and change only those that most needed to be changed. So long as the bed coverings were pulled taught, none of the guests would be the wiser. The same pertained to the bathroom towels. If they looked clean, she was simply to hang them back up and straighten them. It was those two policies Emily found most repugnant, but she did as she was told just the same.
Hard work for little pay was not her only problem. Several of the maids were married to men who worked in the same hotel as ushers, doormen, bellhops, and kitchen help. Bellhop Freddie Hawthorn was married to a maid that worked on the top floor. Karen Hawthorn was desperately in love with her husband, an attachment Emily found unfathomable. He was a disgusting man with a perpetual sickening grin who thought himself entitled to whatever he wanted. Freddie had a habit of sneaking up behind her and grabbing Emily around the waist. Twice, it startled her so, she had to cover her mouth to keep from crying out and alarming the guests.
However, that morning she was ready for him. As soon as he grabbed her, she picked up a washrag soaked in ammonia, spun around and shoved it against his freshly ironed uniform jacket. The instant the repugnant smell reached his nostrils, his eyes bulged,