The title of this post sounds kind of disreputable, but it's kind of what I feel like some of the time. I don't have a job, and a fair amount of what I've been up to this spring and summer has been traveling with Iain, or just going out with him for events where you're kind of expected to bring a plus-one. There's enough of this stuff to do that we're out a couple times a week and not always nearby - that condo in London is not just a place he has because it's annoying to rent a hotel room, although given how few neighbors we see when we're there, it is for some other people in the building. We've been there, and to Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, and Copenhagen besides. The travel and event schedule is just enough that even if I had the right sort of visa to get a job here, I'd be a terrible employee for all the scheduling leeway I'd be asking for because this can be the only way to see Iain for longer than it takes him to get up and go to work.
Which isn't too suggest he's keeping me around because I look nice in a dress, have excellent small-talk skills that he can't know have been honed over a couple of decades in sales, and know what a man likes in bed on top of that. No, more and more I feel like he genuinely likes me and doesn't think much about how "Joy" is different than she was a few years back. We have fun going out together even if it's not a work thing.
Not that some people don't occasionally notice. We were having a sort of low-key night out on Saturday with some of his old school friends, who had apparently met her but not me, and someone made a remark that I hadn't been a whiskey girl in the past. I shrugged and said I'd developed a taste for it, but this woman was weirdly insistent and annoyed all evening. I asked Iain what was up with that, and he said that even if she were not a professional party planner, she had sort of been groomed as a hostess from a very early age, and apparently knowing the favorite drinks of your guests was a big deal, both for looking like you cared about them personally and making sure you had the proper amounts of spirits on hand. Eminently reasonable - I still remember what a lot of clients favored - but it kind of rubbed me the wrong way that night (maybe it wouldn't have if I'd been drinking white wine).
"Is that my future if we stick together a few more years? A mental file of how to properly flatter everybody you do business with and everyone else in the UK besides?"
"Nah, I figure that'll be my job while you sell the horses."
He said it as a joke, but I am kind of getting better at all the horse stuff. I'm not really good at riding yet, but I'm finding that I really like it. I've never really thought about how much girls liked horses, but they really can hit this sweet spot of being pretty, powerful, and (hopefully) not threatening. Iain's family are breeders, so it's not like the horses in the stables were ever wild, but when you sit atop one, you don't feel small and weak and like prey. Maybe that's not such a big deal to born women, but I definitely notice it.
I haven't quite reached the point where I ask Sir Robert if I can shadow him doing business; it would be really presumptuous with my not actually being part of the family, and as much as I'm okay with having that as a goal - women like Joy have been guaranteeing their futures like that forever and I would be a realist even if I didn't actually like Iain - it's not the sort of thing you can be too plain about.
Is that too "professional"? I don't know. Maybe. Joy didn't really like this sort of thing based on her diaries, but those also make it seem like Iain wasn't too thrilled with them either, and maybe he's either learned to enjoy them more with a date who doesn't complain or he just grew up and realized this is how the world works, and maybe Joy would have too. Or maybe she wouldn't have, but it doesn't matter, because I'm Joy now.