Tour Stop {Book Excerpt}: Work for Hire by Margo Karasek

Work for Hire
by Margo Karasek
Published May 24th 2012

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Tekla’s law school career couldn’t be any better. She has top grades. She’s on Law Review. She’s a frontrunner in a mock oral argument with a sweet prize: a judicial clerkship. One problem, though: Tekla has no more money to pay for school. She needs a part-time job. Fast.
Luckily, her roommate has just the solution: help two uber-wealthy prep school teens, the twin son and daughter of a billionaire Wall Street short-seller and a world-renowned model turned fashion photographer, with their schoolwork, and earn $150 an hour. Plus, enjoy an additional perk on the job, in the form of a gorgeous photo assistant who happens to have his eye on Tekla.
Easy money.
Well, not so much. Within days, Tekla’s job begins to unravel. In a world of super-wealth and high fashion, Tekla finds herself surrounded by a peculiar cast of players: two teens whose self-destructive behavior becomes ever more erratic, a father whose ambitions for his son constantly test Tekla’s notions of what is fair and ethical and what is cheating, a mother whose emotional negligence borders on abuse, and a gorgeous man who may or may not be what he appears.
As Tekla struggles to hold onto a job that takes more time and energy than she ever anticipated, her own school life begins to suffer. She makes an enemy of a professor who seems to want nothing more than to bring her down. And he’s succeeding. Soon Tekla’s life is a paradox: without her high paying part-time job, she can’t afford law school; but with it, she’ll surely flunk out of school.
About the Author
Margo Karasek decided to be a writer the instant she finished reading her first novel as a kid. She loved the possibilities and freedom in observing and writing about everyday people, whose experiences--through her words--could make a lasting impact. This passion led her to NYU, where she earned a journalism and anthropology degree, with the highest honors. But since she couldn't figure out how writers made a decent living, Margo went on to law school--where she had a blast. Unfortunately, actually practicing law was nowhere near as fun as learning about it in school, so Margo took the ultimate plunge: she quit her cushy law firm job to become a full-time novelist. And, to help make ends meet throughout the process, Margo also began tutoring for some of the wealthiest, best known families in New York as a side-gig. The latter job gave her some powerful ideas for her first novel. Margo currently lives in Queens, New York with her husband and their two children, and is busy working on her next book. 


“Hello, you must be Tekla,” the most gorgeous man I had ever seen said to me and smiled. And when he did, his dimples—I meant, creases; they were called creases in a real man—came to life. 
                I melted. 
                I just loved a man with creases, especially when they adorned a face already blessed with a Brad Pitt jaw and lips, and George Clooney eyes—like this one’s did.
                He stood in the door of a midtown townhouse, a GQ cover come to life, and extended his hand in welcome.
                I glanced at the perfectly formed appendage—his long tapered fingers framed by short, clean nails, marred only by a small callus that suggested just the right amount of manly labor—and momentarily stepped back, distrusting my unbelievable luck. Was I truly at the right address, and was Mr. GQ indeed talking to the right Tekla? 
                Yup. He was. 227 East 30th Street: a discreet four-story brownstone with a brick façade and black trimmings on a quiet block between two of the busiest avenues in New York City. Just like Ms. Jacobs had said.
                “Tekla,” she had called me a mere two hours after our abrupt interview, “I set up a meeting for you with Mrs. Lamont tomorrow, at noon. I realize you probably have classes, but Mrs. Lamont insists. The meeting has to be tomorrow, or she’s going to another agency. Don’t be late.”
                And I wasn’t, even though the meeting did interfere with my class schedule.
For that reason, I had promised Ann I would join her study group for the whole year if she agreed to share her notes from our noon Copyright lecture. Hopefully, I wouldn’t end up having to miss another class after that. Because I could not, under any circumstances, miss Constitutional Law. Professor If-You-Miss-My-Class-Even-Once-Your-Grade-Will-Drop-Significantly Johnson would crucify me. Luckily, the probability of that happening was miniscule. That lecture was at five. The meeting with Mrs. Lamont couldn’t possibly run more than five hours. 
So, with my academic bases covered, I had happily called Ms. Jacobs to confirm the time, then focused on my appearance. A former model like Mrs. Lamont would surely notice the clothing I wore—especially since the family was so concerned about aesthetics—and, since I didn’t own anything remotely designer, I had begged Lauren to lend me her cable-knit Armani halter that went so well with my linen slacks and lent me an air of Newport-sailor chic. I had even managed to blow-dry straight my frizzy hair and apply makeup. Nothing too fancy: just blush, lip gloss and mascara for that sun-kissed late summer look.    
And here I stood, polished and looking good, at the door of the right address, exactly at the appointed hour on the appointed day. But the man in front of me was no Mrs. Lamont. Not even close. Nothing about this man was remotely feminine—not his muscled forearms, his perfectly square jaw with its two-day stubble, or his crooked smile that showed glimpses of pearly white teeth. 
At six feet tall and with the finely honed physique of a long-distance runner, this god was in his late twenties, or maybe early thirties. His hair was short, thick, and dark, his complexion olive, his eyes dark brown and offset by even darker lashes. Then there were those creases, almost winking at me in friendly invitation.               
“Uh,” I said, stepping forward again to take hold of his outstretched hand. It felt smooth and dry in my palm. I was sorry to release it. “I’m here to see Mrs. Lamont.”
“Well, come in.”
Mr. GQ shifted away from the door so I could walk inside. And when he did, a cloud of cologne and fabric softener mixed in the air around him. My eyes drifted closed. Calvin Klein and Snuggles: my favorite smells. 
“We’ve been expecting you,” Mr. GQ continued.


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