Authors: Kathi S. Barton
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, organizations, or person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
World Castle Publishing, LLC
Copyright © Kathi S. Barton 2014
Print ISBN: 9781629891743
eBook ISBN: 9781629891750
First Edition World Castle Publishing, LLC, November 28, 2014
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in articles and reviews.
Cover: Karen Fuller
Editor: Eric Johnston
Editor: Maxine Bringenberg
Kerry reached for the phone when it rang. There were others in the room with her, but she doubted that any of them were paying attention to the monitors. As soon as she answered, the man at the other end started screaming at her. She picked up the little ball on her desk and played with it until he calmed down. Or took a breath.
“Are you fucking listening to me?”
“I am, even though by rights you should have been hung up on when I first answered; so yes, I’m still listening to you.” She smiled when he started cursing again.
“So what the hell are you going to do about it then?”
“I’m assuming this is over your cable being shut off.” He told her it fucking was. “Well, I can take a payment now and it will be on within the next twenty-four to forty—”
“I want it fucking back on now.” She waited while he went on another cussing tirade. “I have people here that have come to watch the fight that’s on tonight, not two days from now. Turn it on and I’ll pay you in the morning.”
“No.” He was quiet for a few seconds, and then started in on her parentage as well as her level of intelligence before she cut him off. “I’m sorry about your company, sir, but you’ve received numerous calls from us as well as two bills. As of right now, your cable bill is past due by nearly four months. You’ll need to make a payment before service can be turned back on.”
“I never received a bill.” She rolled her eyes and bounced her ball against the monitor. Kerry could see in front of her that he had called last month and made arrangements to pay, which he had not done. As she started to tell him this a note was put on her desk. Kerry looked at it, then at the man who stood waiting. A little afraid now, she decided that the note was much more important than the abuse she was receiving from the man, and cut him off again.
“You’ve received enough bills to have you call in last month and try to make arrangements to pay it off. You were to pay half by that Friday and then the other half over the next two months. The only thing I can tell you now, sir, is that it will need to be paid in full before any of the services can be turned back on.” He started to scream at her again and she disconnected the call, something she wished she’d done before when he’d cursed at her.
“Why do they want me to come now?” The other customer service rep shrugged. She stood up, took off her headphones, and looked at the front offices, then sat back down and looked at him again. He shrugged again and walked away from her. When he was gone, she picked up her things—all of the toys and other things that were hers on the desk—and shoved them into her backpack. If she was going to be fired, she wasn’t going to have them pack up her shit and send it to her. She was taking it now. Grabbing the three pens that were also hers, she debated on whether to take the framed awards, and thought how little good they’d do her if she was terminated. She went to her boss’s office and knocked on his door.
“You wanted to see me?” He nodded and motioned for her to come in. She couldn’t stand this man. Robbie Kline was a pompous ass, and he lorded his position over all of them like he was king and not a simple lead. She had told him on more than one occasion that he’d only gotten his job because she hadn’t wanted it. She supposed that was what made him hate her so much.
“I’m supposed to tell you that—” Marvin Simon stepped into the room with them and she stood up. Now this man she liked. When he told her to sit down, she did so and they both looked at Robbie. “I thought I was going to tell her.”
“Well, you are. I’m just here in the event she has any questions. Do you?” She looked at Marvin, then at Robbie, confused. “Ah, he’s not told you yet. Good. That lets me do it.”
Robbie started to speak and was cut off with a look from his boss. Marvin had two looks…one that made you feel like he’d cut your throat when he was pissed, and another that said he was very proud of you. She’d never seen the first, but apparently what others said about it was true. It was fucking scary.
“You’re being promoted.” She looked at Robbie, who glared before looking back at Marvin. “You still want to be on the outside, don’t you? I wouldn’t actually call it a promotion, but since you want to do this, I’m sure you’ll think of it as one. I’m going to miss you.”
“I’m going to get to lay lines?” He nodded at her, and she gripped the arms of the chair tighter, waiting for him to tell her that he was kidding. “You can start training Monday morning. I’ve asked that you be set up with someone knowledgeable, but I don’t know them as well as I do my service reps. I’m just hoping that if you hate it, you come back to me. Your job is—”
Kerry stood up and hugged him. He stood as well and hugged her back. Robbie snorted but neither of them paid any attention to him. She didn’t care; she was going to be able to be outside instead of stuck in the office all the time. Kerry Stephens was going to be a lineman.
She went back to her desk to clean it up after getting the rundown on what she was going to be doing and how she should dress, and receiving several books from Marvin to look at over the long weekend. Kerry was given the rest of the day off and into the weekend to get ready to move to another shift. She’d been working nights for so long that she wasn’t sure what to do about seeing the sun. Grinning, she took the awards off her cubicle and put them into her bag with the rest of her things she was going to abandon. The little ball that had helped her with stress was still in her hand when she went to the door.
“You leaving early? Got yourself a new position and now you’re cutting out before your time? Shame on you.” She ignored Robbie and smiled at the guard at the door, who was checking her bag. “You know that you’ll be back, don’t you? As soon as you do, I’m going to laugh my ass off at you for the failure that we both know that you are.”
He’d hurt her, and as much as she tried to hide it, she was sure he’d seen it. She wasn’t a failure, but he’d made her feel like one every day of the past ten years she’d worked here. She turned to him when the guard handed back her bag.
“You’re a sad, sad man, Robbie. I hope that someday your mouth catches up with you and someone puts you in your place.” She turned to leave only to have him grab her arm. She looked at him until he let her go.
“You think you’re going to be this big bad lineman and that you’ll be able to come back here and kick my ass? Get real. You’re nothing but a female, and at the first sign of trouble, you’ll be back.”
“No, I won’t, because I won’t fail. It’s not in me to fail. I could come back and beat your ass, but I’m not going to waste my time in trying to teach you a lesson you should have learned a long time ago.”
“Oh yeah, and what lesson do you think that might be? Respect?” He snorted. “I don’t show you respect because we both know that you’re well beneath me. Someday I’m going to own this company, and when I do, what do you think is going to happen then?”
“Not much of anything, because by then hell would have frozen over.” She laughed with the guard and walked out the door. Robbie was telling him to shut the fuck up as the door closed behind her. Kerry had to control the urge to skip all the way to her car. She was that fucking happy.
The first person she called was her sister. “I got the job. I’m going to be a lineman starting Monday.”
She knew the moment her sister didn’t say anything that she was having another drama. Dora didn’t really care that whatever it was could be fixed. It was all the same to her. Something for her to complain about and whine about.
“Will you make more money?” Kerry sat in her car and closed her eyes, wishing now she hadn’t called. “I could use a loan to tide me over until you get the next commission check. I’m all out of money for rent.”
“I won’t have any more commission checks, Dora. I told you that before. And I paid your rent two weeks ago. Where is that money?” She’d been in a hurry and not paid the landlord directly this time. “You didn’t pay the rent with it, did you?”
“I have needs, little sister, and the rent was not one of them at the time you gave it to me. I’ve told you before that you need to set me up on your account so that I can have access to your checking account, and I’d never have to bother you again about this shit.” She heard someone talking and knew it was the boyfriend again. “Death says to tell you that the sooner the better.”
Enough was enough. She was finished with her sister and her boyfriends. She’d told her this before and now she really was finished. She had a job she liked and she needed to start caring for herself, and not her sister who was too fucking lazy to not only find a job but to keep one.
“Look, Dora, I’m not giving you money and I’m not going to give you access to my account. Not now and not ever. And as of right now, I’m not bailing your ass out every time you think you—”
“You will too. If you don’t, I’m going to tell Daddy.” Kerry closed her eyes. “What do you think he’d say if you left us without a place to stay? Huh? You think he’d be happy with you? No, he loves me and wants the best for me.”
“I’m finished.” She closed her phone and then reached for it again after she tossed it on the seat next to her. She pressed down hard on the off button and was glad when it asked her if she wanted to power off. She most certainly did. She started her car and went to see her dad. He was on her shit list too.
Reed watched the numbers fly across his screen. He was looking for one in particular, and when it popped up three times in a row, he paused. There she was. He wrote down the times as well as the number it had come from and put this information on the chart he’d set up for this case. He glanced up when his sister-in-law, Caitlynne, sat down across from him.
“You should have cleaned out your desk a week ago, Reed. What the hell are you doing now?” He grinned at her, and Caitlynne, his boss up until three weeks ago, grinned back. “You found it, didn’t you?”
“Yeah. I found some of them yesterday, and then today this whole other set of papers came across my desk. I couldn’t leave it alone and decided to have a look.” He handed her the files. “She’s been calling again. Not a lot at first, but more over the past few days. Monday is not her usual day to call in deals.”
Caitlynne looked them over, then handed them back to him. “You think you can work this for us when we get back to Ohio? I know that once we get back we’re going to be fairly bored. I’m actually looking forward to being a simple chief of police with my trusty brother-in-law as my sidekick.”
Reed laughed and began the process of shutting down his computer. It was all he had left to pack up. He stuffed his things in his bag and stood up and looked around. He’d only been on temporary assignment here with her, and was actually looking forward to going back home permanently too. However, he was going to miss this.
“I’m glad you decided to come and work with me. Hopefully we’ll get some things done while we’re together. Our little town will be the safest in the world when we roll into it.” He laughed when she did. “Are you okay with this?”
“Yes. I’ve signed on the house I’ve wanted forever. I’ve ordered furniture that’s going to be delivered tomorrow, and the housekeeper and cook start today to get things where they want them. Thank you, by the way, for letting Camps come and be with me. That guy is amazing.” They moved to the elevator and he had his badge ready to turn in when he left. “Are you sure about this?”
“I’m not going to lie to you. I’m going to miss it a great deal, but being home sounds good too. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to relax there and not worry every time the phone rang who’d been murdered. Walker is happy too. He and Khan have the clinic all set up and patients already coming to see him.”
They were riding to the airport together. Everything he’d wanted to take back with him had already been moved and put on board. As soon as they were seated, the pilot told them that they’d be moving in a few minutes. Reed took the glass of tea when the stewardess handed it to him.
“Mom and Dad said their house was going to be done soon. I was hoping they’d have it done before Christmas. I’m glad it will be.” He’d wanted Christmas at their old home, but the foundation had been bad and the house that they’d grown up in was now rubble. But they sounded happy about the one that they had now.
“The cable company was out Friday when I left there to finish up here. They were supposed to come back today and install and lay the lines. Your dad is having a good time telling everyone that he was going to have a wireless house. Do you suppose he has any idea what that means?” Reed told her he didn’t think so. “I swear to you the next time George says ‘shit,’ I’m going to hunt your father down and beat him.”
Reed laughed, and didn’t mention that he knew that Jack was teaching him the word and that Ama was teaching him to spit. He was getting pretty good at it too. He leaned back in his chair and thought of the things he was having done to his house.
Tomorrow he was going to run in his back yard. Closing his eyes, he smiled when he thought of how big it was. Caitlynne had helped him with the down payment on the place, and he was both scared and nervous about owing her and Walker so much. But he also knew that once he was able to make his first half year of payments he’d be able to pay them back. The bank had asked that he leave the money he’d been saving for the house in the accounts until the first six months went by. Being that he didn’t have a great deal of credit to his name he’d needed a co-signer. Walker and Caitlynne had come through for him, and now he had his dream house.