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Authors: Bec Johnson

Murfey's Law

BOOK: Murfey's Law
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Also by Bec Johnson




Unfamiliar Territory


Murfey’s Law


Bec Johnson

Copyright © 2013 Bec Johnson




All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without prior written permission of the publisher.

Chapter One





‘What the hell do you think you are doing Miss James? This isn't a drill, you need to evacuate the building NOW or face certain death!’

The sound of someone shrieking from the opposite end of the large open plan office wasn't enough to snap Lori out of her daze, nor was the putrid smell of burning plastic filling the air around the desk that she had occupied for the last six years. It was only as her waste paper bin began dripping little molten plastic fireballs onto the carpet beside her bare feet that she came to and realised there was anything wrong at all.

Lori looked up from the box of matches in her hand to see forty-odd members of Hunter & Hunter Acquisitions staff all pushing and shoving each other through the one seventh floor fire exit. Gay George from Property, as opposed to Straight George from Accounts, was taking his role as Fire Warden very seriously and was using a copy of this month's Cosmo to smack staff, mainly the men, on their backsides to herd them out the door. In between each whack he wafted the glossy mag under his nose and coughed theatrically.

‘About bloody time someone torched this place Birdy!’ Sara Hunter, Lori's best friend, walked towards her clapping loudly. She laughed as she up-ended the nearest pot plant onto the smouldering carpet.

‘I opened it,’ Lori offered by way of explanation.

‘Opened wha...? Oohh,’ her friend's face fell, ‘the letter?’

Lori nodded. ‘Yes, but it's ok, really.’ She tried to smile genuinely.

‘Oh really? Well then I would love to see what you would have done to this place if it wasn't ok.’ Sara grinned as she removed the matchbox from Lori's grip. Hastily tugging on her already low cut shirt she caused a button to ping open and reveal a little more than ample bright red Agent Provocateur lace. ‘Leave this to me.’

‘Leave what to you?’ Confused, Lori spun her chair around to see what her voluptuous friend was looking at.

Behind her, several fully suited firemen were marching through the maze of desks towards them. The burly looking fluorescent man at the front of the group was pointing his axe at the detector on the ceiling directly above her desk.

Lori exhaled slowly. ‘Oh shit!’


With a little hatchet touching and hair flipping it didn't take long for Sara to have the situation under her control. Less than fifteen minutes later she led Lori out of the building and across the road.

‘I'm not sure I feel comfortable being in the pub at three o'clock, even if it is a Friday.’ Lori fiddled nervously with her straw.

‘Just drink your drink Birdy, and besides, we're in a hotel, that makes it perfectly acceptable.’ Sara took a sip of her Rosé and leant back into the plush seating.

They had been coming here after work every Friday since the letter had arrived over a month ago. Sara's reasoning was that it was important to support local business, but Lori knew her friend was really offering her the proverbial shoulder-to-cry-on should she decide to open it.


The morning the letter had dropped onto her doormat Lori took the day off sick, her first in almost a year, to give herself the privacy she thought she needed. But instead of opening it, she had stuffed it in to the salad crisper in her fridge and consumed an entire family size block of chocolate whilst watching crappy daytime TV. The salad crisper was the least visited place in her flat and so Lori felt it could remain there, safely out of sight, until she was ready to open it. Concerned by Lori's unusual absence, Sara had turned up after work that day to see if she needed any supplies. Finding her friend perfectly well, besides an enormous sugar high and a fresh crop of pimples, she had marched her down to the hotel bar where Lori told her everything.


‘I really should be helping Max with his presentation,’ Lori tried again.

‘Listen, Max agrees with me, you need a break from work, and not just for the afternoon.’ Sara rubbed Lori's arm affectionately.

‘What do you mean?’ Lori started to panic. Was she being fired? That'd be just her luck, to get the sack from her best friend's business. Quite a feat in fact.

Job security was the one thing Lori hadn't really ever worried about since she was poached from her old job six years ago. Working for Sara and her super rich husband was amazing. Admittedly she never felt there was ever a good time to take more than a couple of days off at once and she was always the first to arrive and the last to leave, but she loved the work itself. She had been Max's Personal Assistant for long enough now that she knew which colour tie he would be wearing before he had even walked in the door each morning.

‘Calm down Lori,’ Sara said sternly.

Lori winced. Sara only ever called her by her actual name when they were in front of clients, or preceding some sort of home truth. The last release of brutal honesty had been that Lori needed to take a little extra care of her appearance. It had hurt for sure, but in hindsight it had been a fair comment. Lori had stopped plucking her eyebrows the day Pete, her ex-boyfriend, had left her for a farmer he'd met on a corporate bonding day at a Dairy just outside the M25.

‘All I'm saying, is that Max and I recognise the immense amount of work that you've put in to Hunter & Hunter over the years and the fact is, we owe you three months leave. We want, no we insist you take it now. Go somewhere warm, go to Australia maybe?’ Sara raised an eyebrow.

‘Don't be ridiculous, I can't possibly leave Max for that long.’

‘You can, and you will. I'm not taking no for an answer, it's not a negotiation.’ Sara squeezed Lori's thigh affectionately. ‘And while you are on your break, maybe cut out the chocolate eh?’

Ouch. For a best friend she sure packed a punch. Lori knew Sara was right about everything, she always was, it was why she trusted her so much.

‘I guess I could do with a break.’ Lori resigned herself to the inevitable. ‘At least it'll make use of the little bit of savings I made when Pete had the decency to call it quits the day before we were due to buy that house.’

‘Atta girl.’ Sara chinked Lori's glass. ‘'ll head down under and finally go see your Dad?’

‘No, I don't think so.’ Lori shook her head and took a big gulp of her drink.

‘Why on earth not? Seems like an excellent idea to me. Mmm, just think of all that sun. It is their summer now right?’

‘Yes. And yes, I will go, but I won't be seeing my father.’ Lori knocked back what was left in her glass, grabbed her purse and stood up to go get the next round.

‘What are you on about? You can't go all that way and not go see him, that's just lunacy.’ Sara finished her Rosé too and slid the empty glass across the table.

Lori picked it up by the stem and stepped down off the raised area where they were sat. ‘I can't go see him Sara, because he's dead.’


By the time Lori had made it back from the bar with their refills, a group of Hunter & Hunter staff had descended on Sara, all vying for the gossip on Lori's meltdown. It hadn't taken long for Gay George to sweet talk one of the firemen into giving him the cause of the earlier alarm.

‘So Lori,’ he patted the seat beside him, ‘word around the office is that you were burning evidence for a tax cover up. Care to confirm or deny?’

Before Lori could answer, Katy the Receptionist jumped in to the spot beside George and snorted loudly, ‘Don't be ridiculous, she would never do anything even remotely dangerous, I mean, the last big risk she took was wearing a skirt.’

The group erupted in laughter.

Normally Lori would have thought of a witty comeback for this kind of office banter but today her brain just couldn't work fast enough and so her mouth took the lead. ‘My Dad just died.’

‘Oh crap.’ Katy's face fell. ‘I'm so sorry.’

Everyone fell into an awkward silence. Lori knew her declaration wasn't strictly true, he'd actually died a few days prior to the letter being posted, but she wasn't about to clarify that. Instead, she did what she did best, swept the issue under the rug and acted like it was no big deal. Faking it, in all areas of her life, had become the norm recently. So much so, it was sometimes difficult even for Lori herself to know what was real and what was not.

‘Sheesh, don't worry about it Katy, it's no big deal, I mean, do I look upset?’ Lori gave the mortified girl her best don't give a damn face.

‘Umm, well no, I guess not.’ She got back up from the seat she'd stolen and put her hand gently on Lori's back, guiding her into the spot before hastily retreating to the bar.

Lori handed a refilled glass to Sara before addressing those of the group who hadn't sidled away out of embarrassment. ‘Come on everyone, lets drop it eh?’

‘Here here.’ George chinked his Martini glass against Lori's. ‘Let's talk about the lovely gift of emergency services personnel you sent me instead.’

The afternoon faded easily into evening and gradually the bar filled with more and more office workers all eager to wash down the end of their working week with a few overpriced drinks. It was almost seven o'clock before Max showed up. As he always did every Friday he bought with him flowers for Sara from the little late night corner shop beside the hotel. Even after six years working with them, Lori was still amazed at the incredible relationship her bosses had.

Not only had they been childhood sweethearts, they remained a couple right through university and started their business together not long after graduating. Relationships that survived under such intensity were far and few between. Lori hadn't even moved under the same roof as her boyfriend before he had buckled under the pressure of it all. The stress of the thought of living with her had driven him straight into the arms of a milk maid.

‘Ah, umm Lori, I do hope you're ok?’ Max stared at his feet nervously, he didn't do emotions very well. Whenever there was a crisis at work, Sara was sent to manage it. Max was the first to admit that he was the brains behind the business whereas his wife provided the body and soul.

‘Of course I am Max, I'm just so sorry for this afternoon, I'll pay for any damage of course.’ Lori blushed, she hated having to admit that she had messed up.

‘Nonsense, I won't hear of it. You have given more of yourself to the job than anyone should ever expect. Besides, Sara has been itching to remodel the office for quite some time, you have merely given her the excuse she was looking for. Now, let me buy you ladies a drink.’ He thrust the purple and pink daisies at his wife before disappearing into the growing crowds.

Not a big drinker, Lori was already feeling a little light-headed had almost reached her threshold. She needed to stop soon and head home before she tripped over the line between tipsy and drunk. It was a very thin line she didn't like very much and rarely crossed.

‘Missing him already eh?’ Lori bumped shoulders with Sara and giggled as she watched her perfectly manicured nails tapping away at a text message.

Leaning away from Lori so she couldn't quite see the screen Sara half nodded and tucked the phone back in her handbag. ‘Mmm hmm.’

When Max returned a short while later he was carrying two strange looking cocktails. Cautiously he rested them on the table and released a bottle of beer that he'd pressed between his forearm and torso. Sloshing a little on the table he slid the cocktails over.

Lori took a large suck on the pair of straws poking out of the thick icy orange slush and stood up. ‘Let's make a toast...’

‘To firemen!’ George shouted and clinked several glasses around him.

‘To holidays and new adventures.’ Max held his beer aloft.

‘Absent fathers?’ Katy tried.

‘New carpets.’ Sara joined in while Max rolled his eyes.

‘Yes yes, all those things, plus one more. To letting go.’ Lori smiled, raised her glass high and saluted the air above where they sat before downing the cocktail in one.

The rest of the evening carried along in much the same way. Max, supplied a regular flow of drinks for everyone, whilst Sara kept the group entertained with her moves on the large checkerboard video game dance floor. Katy, being the youngest member of the team, spent the evening slowly working her way around each man in the room, flirting shamelessly. Lori watched on with interest, she had to admit to herself that if she had even half the body confidence the tall olive skinned receptionist had then she would probably be doing the same.

It had been so long since Lori had slept with anyone she was becoming concerned that if, or when, the chance ever arose again she wouldn't remember what to do. Having only ever of had three boyfriends Lori felt her twenty-nine years of age far outweighed her experience. Her sexual resume didn't even cover a whole page.

BOOK: Murfey's Law
12.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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