Esmee nodded. “Yes.” She struggled to hoist the suitcases up onto the bed.
Andi reached out and helped her, smiling warmly and reassuringly at the girl to eliminate any thoughts that there would be repercussions for her lack of performance. “How old are you, Esmee?” Andi sat down on the edge of the bed and locked her eyes on the little girl. A thin face and long dark hair surrounded a pair of soft brown eyes.
Esmee thought for a moment, struggling with the numbers. She then counted her fingers, first in her own language then hesitatingly in English. “I am eight,” she finally announced proudly.
“Do you go to school, Honey?”
“No, Miss. There is no school here. My mother works in the house for Senor Hundretti and she teaches me when I am not working.”
Andi frowned slightly. “What other work do you do here?” She looked around her in an effort to coax the girl to talk. “The house is so clean and there is only one person living here. Senor Hundretti has no family here with him.”
Esmee beamed with pride. “I help with the laundry and the cooking. I help outside in the yard, I keep the fires lit and clean. I also do floors and I can even sew now.”
Andi laughed. “You are very talented and very smart, Esmee. Do you only do these things for Senor or does your family live here in the house as well?”
Her eyes widened. “Oh, no, Miss. We have our own home near where the heli… heli…”
“Helicopter?” Andi urged.
“Yes, near where the helicopter lands. We leave here after supper and come back in the morning to make breakfast for him and his company. Then we begin to clean up. We give Senor his…”
There was a knock at the door and the youngster’s eyes widened with fear. She ran to the door and opened it, trying to scoot through while avoiding the hand that she appeared to instinctively know was waiting to make contact with her. Joe’s hand found her ear and pushed her head into the doorframe. The child said nothing as she shook off the bump then ran down the hall.